A few Argus readers have criticised my stance on immigration and I am happy to respond. Across Turkey there are over 20 refugee camps offering a safe place to anyone fleeing war in Syria or Iraq. There are others in Jordan. It is a tragedy that people have chosen to leave the safety of refugee camps and put their lives at risk by paying traffickers to smuggle them illegally into Europe. Hundreds of thousands are arriving in Greece and Italy with millions more waiting their turn.
Once into the EU they know they will be given food, housing, healthcare and eventually a passport and permission to work. Many will then want to bring in their wives, children, elderly parents and other relatives. It would be easy enough to accommodate a few thousand people but it will be impossible to deal with the millions who want to come. There are 20 million people in Syria, 33 million in Iraq, 27 million in Afghanistan and hundreds of millions more living in poverty stricken and war torn countries across Africa and Asia.
We have to decide if we are willing to provide asylum for anyone wanting to enter the UK from a war zone. If we are, then people need to accept the implications that will follow with the arrival of millions. Greece is already starting to buckle under the strain, as I saw on a visit there two years ago - but even wealthier countries will eventually be unable to afford to look after the millions trying to get in. We could see the end of the welfare state and universal healthcare and the appearance of squatter camps and shanty towns like the one in Calais. They are common enough across the third world and no doubt we will get used to them in Europe.
We ought to understand that many of those escaping war could have been on opposite sides, such as ISIS and Assad supporters from Syria. Will they forego their hatred on arrival in the EU? Or will we have to spend years monitoring and integrating people at further expense? These are all fair questions to ask of those who say we should allow in refugees. I am truly sorry for the Calais migrants but believe we can’t support everyone. If we try, we will end up helping no-one. We have borders and they must be respected.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 31 August 2015*