The Moral Approach to Britain’s Migrant Crisis | William Hallowell


Britain must prevent and deter illegal immigration, rather than actively encouraging it. That would be the ‘moral’ solution to the issue neglected by those in power.

The perception of ‘morality’ often forms the basis for which many political discussions are had in relation to Britain’s illegal immigration problem. Some argue that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to welcome as many refugees as attempt the perilous journey across the Channel, and that the immoral approach would be to ‘send them back’, prevent them, not allow them entry into the country.

But this ‘morality’ is only perceived. It is used as an emotional instrument – a weapon with which to advance the argument – to make the case for not adequately and firmly controlling our borders. As with morality, a similar theme follows with simultaneous arguments of ‘humanity’ and trying to ‘save lives’, in not turning back the boats. Many make the case that turning back the boats is ‘killing’ desperate people… ‘murder’, even, is the word some have used to describe the Home Secretary’s stance on illegal immigration (even though her actions are yet to match her rhetoric materially).

Is it really the ‘moral’ approach to allow these Channel crossings to continue, and for people to put their lives in grave danger? And is this ‘morality’, which forms the basis of most arguments against turning back the boats, self-asserted? Perhaps at face value, it would be easy to make the argument that it is the moral thing to do. From another perspective, however, weak immigration policy, which allows for weak borders, encourages these crossings to continue.

In the knowledge that the people who do seek refuge in Britain will be welcomed, housed, fed and clothed at the expense of the taxpayer and without having to contribute anything to the economy or the country, these incentives encourage migrants to come here by illegal means. Additionally, the financial and social burden falls on working people – not the politicians who actively encourage the boats, or the mega-rich, who are untouched by the effects of illegal immigration. This means that many do, and will continue to, risk their lives to come to the UK, even if it means paying smugglers anywhere from £2,500, all the way up to a grotesque £10,000. Not only does illegal immigration to the UK risk an obscene amount of loss of life, but outrageously reward exploitative criminality – and yet, the argument of ‘morality’ in accepting this truth as standard prevails. It is maddening that those who make the case of morality in not turning back the boats, are often those who highlight and seek to tackle exploitation of the vulnerable.

This leads on to a further point: not only does Britain’s weak stance on illegal immigration and border control provide incentives and encouragement for the people who wish to come here, but the smugglers who facilitate the crossings, too. For as long as the incentives remain for the people making the trip across the Channel, so does the economic fortune and opportunity for people smugglers to exploit and prey upon desperate and vulnerable people. This is, essentially, the basic principle of supply and demand. The ‘moral’ approach to our illegal immigration problem would be to cut the supply significantly, causing demand to fall dramatically. This would save lives; this is where the morality lies in the discourse around our refugee crisis.

Additionally, it is clear that for the people smugglers, the economic benefits far outweigh the risks of being caught and convicted – otherwise they simply wouldn’t facilitate the crossings. Therefore, more must be done between Britain and France to prosecute them, rather than the British government dismissively delegating the problem to French by lobbing £50 million across the Channel – money that could be far better spent on the British public.

Here lies the argument of ‘morality’ on the topic of illegal immigration; and here lies the fundamental issue with the discourse surrounding it. Those who utilise the weapons of ‘morals’ or ‘humanity’ are those who continue to allow vulnerable people to be exploited perpetually by refusing to tackle the issue… which, if done so properly, would save lives. Any argument for ‘saving’ the lives of refugees, which actively encourages the crossings to continue, is absurd and wrong – both practically and, dare I say, morally too.  

Whilst those who do take a hard-line stance on illegal immigration are branded racists, killers or ‘far-right’, and accused of immorality, inhumanity or of ‘lacking empathy’, those who dish out the ad hominems are the last people committed to tackling the issue. The case they make for being on the side of (self-asserted) ‘morality’ – and moral high ground – merely acts an emotional argument with which to push their disingenuous and misleading agenda… for there is, fundamentally, little morality in perpetually encouraging people to risk their lives, paying at exploitative and extortionate rates to do so, in order to come here.

Britain, unlike many landlocked European countries, has the unique advantage of being an island. Naturally, our defensive moat should, in theory, give our nation an upper-hand in protecting our island. Yet, it is a defence that fails to be utilised continually by the powers in Westminster. Simply, the ‘moral’ approach to tackling our refugee crisis would be to remove the financial and social incentive. In doing so, less people would risk their lives to come here and, in turn, reduce the cruel opportunity exploited by people smugglers to prey on the people who continue to bring custom to their business. And if refugees who illegally attempt to enter the country are processed and kept remotely, away from the mainland, they would be further dissuaded. The precedent that our weak and inadequate border policy has set, which guarantees indefinite leave to remain for illegal immigrants, encourages more and more people to risk their lives – and the alarming increase in the number of people crossing the Channel illegally proves it.

As I have written previously: “We must cease to see Britain as the answer to the world’s  problems – because we aren’t, especially when it comes to taking in the world’s refugees. People outside the UK are not – and must not be seen as – the UK’s priority”.

The ‘moral’ approach to illegal immigration, therefore, does not lie with the side who self-assert their moral superiority on the matter, whilst doing absolutely nothing to preserve or save life. Morality, in fact, lies with those who wish to pursue the policies of deterrence, prevention and dissuasion of those attempting to arrive in the UK illegally, and harsh prosecution of those facilitating these attempts.


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