The Guardian reports that border crossings to the U.K. are not deterred by stricter border security or closed borders.
To the contrary, people seeking asylum and former smugglers share that such measures translate to increased profits for smugglers operating within this illicit trade, as people looking to migrate are so desperate to reach a place of safety that they will pay high costs and even do dangerous jobs for them.
One former smuggler told the Guardian,
“A growing obstacle course on the border made crossing alone impossible for migrants. This attracted mafia groups who studied the controls and found ways around them, knowing what desperate people would pay for these ways.
“We thank your government for our full pockets,” he says.
Indeed, for many, smugglers are their “only hope” despite the risks involved – not just bypassing security but being at the mercy of their deliverers. Due to their desperation, many end up being trafficked in the process as they are willing to pay whatever costs to migrate.
One person seeking asylum told the Guardian,
“It’s a kind of slavery. Poor refugees work as house servants for smugglers; women sell their bodies; others are made to be lookouts or drivers, and can then be arrested and thrown in jail. But they do it because it is their best chance at a safe life. That is all refugees want: peace. We are tired.”
For years, advocates have called for safe routes rather than stricter borders. Instead, the U.K. government has made it a priority to make it more and more difficult to safely and legally migrate to the country. These measures only serve to strengthen the illegal migration and trafficking trades.
People who are desperate for a better chance at survival will not stop migrating. The harder countries like the U.K. make it for them to do so legally, the more vulnerable they make people to exploitation, entrapment, and other abuses.
Worse yet, those who are apprehended by the state due to their insecure immigration status face further abuse in the form of detention and deportation – even if they are trafficking survivors. Tighter borders do not deter immigration and immigration status does not determine one’s fundamental human rights.
We are urgently calling on the U.K. to stop detaining trafficking survivors and release all potential and confirmed survivors from detention. Nobody should be locked up for breaching immigration rules.
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