The British government’s announcement of its plan to transfer illegal immigrants to Rwanda while their claims to asylum are processed, has been met with widespread denunciation. Even in South Africa a number of prominent voices have been raised against it. But stop and think.
First, remember that Africa’s population is predicted to rise by over a billion in the next generation. There is no way that African states will provide all these extra people with housing, jobs, education, health care and so on, so it is certain that huge numbers will attempt to migrate both to South Africa and to Europe. Research shows that more come our way than to Europe. This is not surprising: there’s no sea to cross and our borders are porous.
There is absolutely no way that either South Africa or Europe can or will accommodate this human flood. This is not a moral issue: the fact that the birth rate is so high in, say, Chad or Niger, doesn’t obligate either Europe or South Africa to admit more immigrants. Even if we wanted to accept them, we simply can’t.
Last year 28,000 people crossed the English Channel illegally in small boats, seeking asylum in Britain, and 60,000 were expected this year. They all claim to be refugees but in reality they are mainly would-be economic migrants. Quite a few also claim to be from war-torn countries when in fact they come from peaceful but poor countries. But they are not themselves that poor: they are, by definition, people who have the money to pay people-smugglers handsomely for their services.
Mainly these would-be migrants are young men, though many of them claim, absurdly, to be children in the hope that this will ease their admission. They are mostly also unskilled, a serious problem because advanced European economies have few openings for unskilled workers. If admitted many of them will, inevitably, have to live on welfare or even – whisper it softly - crime.
Opinion polls show that large majorities of British voters are strongly opposed to allowing in such illegal migrants. The country admits large numbers of legal immigrants every year and also gives asylum to many real refugees. Few people see any reason to reward the efforts of people-smugglers.