In three days, it will be a year since Californians Lester Louis Huffmire and his wife, Petra, were convicted of neglecting their children. They would lock them in a caravan for several hours each day while the 41 year olds played World of Warcraft, a computer game. The Orange County District Attorney said there were “kitchen appliances covered in mould and cobwebs, stacks of rubbish, debris, mould, and faeces throughout the home, a pile of used condoms under a stuffed teddy bear and inoperable toilets,” The children were discovered to have not been to school for several years, to be malnourished and with poor oral health. The woman was sentenced to three years and four months in jail and the husband to five years.
The past few days has seen one of those media-generated frenzies that makes politicians quake: they can’t do their job because someone is the object of a mass-hysteria like sympathy-fest. It appeared as if there would be a world shortage of adjectives as they were applied, en masse, to condition readers to the unified stance taken by global media. Politicians all over the world went soft when they should have gone hard.
The reason was a photograph, published first in a UK daily newspaper, of a child, from a migrant boat, washed up on a beach in Turkey. The child has been identified as a three year old Syrian and his family has been identified.
This is the story pieced together from news outlets around the world, each of which played up the images The Syrian family wanted to migrate to Canada. They applied but were rejected. A family member in Canada made an appeal, outside the official protocols and system, via her MP direct to the immigration minister. It was turned down for the simple reason that the family did not qualify for migration under Canada’s law. Moreover, the family did not qualify for refugee status. So it was clear: Canada was out of bounds.
But that did not stop them. They decided that they would leave Syria and somehow make their way to Canada. They decided to first head to Greece and they paid criminals to take them there and land them illegally.
The plan, it seemed, was to avoid Turkey where it is difficult to get refugee status in a United Nations camp. The UN does not automatically assume that those fleeing Syria are refugees (and nor does any country). Turkey does not want to be a transit country for illegal migration and so it simply refuses exit passes to those who are not properly documented. Also, Turkey is not in Europe; Greece is. Once in Greece, undetected by the authorities, there is free passage across some two dozen European countries. Or at least, free passage so long as there are land crossings.
There were several small boats that, loaded with illegal migrants, left Akyarlar. It’s a jumping off point because from there to the Greek island of Kos is the shortest crossing. Kos has a crisis: there are so many illegal migrants on the island, unable to move because the authorities are watching the ports for boats carrying them away. In the first 8 months of this year, some 160,000 illegal migrants arrived in Greece, most on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros. Reports say that Kos, alone, gets more than 200 arrivals per day. Now the authorities have stationed a ship off the island to house some of the arrivals. That ship has secretly functioned as a processing centre and more than 2,000 migrants, mostly Syrian, have been transported to Athens. The island could no longer cope after 21,000 illegal landings in one week.
But most don’t want to be there at all. There’s no work, and the Greek economy is a mess. Moreover, as part of its deal to fix its debt crisis, Greece has heavily restricted its previously extraordinarily generous benefits system. Now the migrants are not entitles to any payout.
And so they want to head north to the countries with highly developed social services and benefits systems. I know, there are those that do not want to believe that but the facts are there. They want to go to Germany, Sweden, Austria or the UK. They do not want to go to Spain, Hungary or any of the Baltic states. They are prepared to walk from southern to northern Europe rather than be in the countries that they land in.
As winter comes, migrants are increasing in number and more and more of them are heading north. In only a matter of weeks, we are going to see what amounts to mass suicide as those with no shelter, food or even winter clothing succumb to the harsh weather of mid-to-northern Europe.
The boy in the photographs is not alone: many children have been drowned or died from other causes during sea crossings around the world. Over the next few months, the pro-migrant PR machine will be pouring photos of the freezing, starving and even dead masses onto our TV screens and, via online newspapers, onto our computers and phones.
Germany and France have made a proposal for Europe to accept 200,000 migrants in the coming months: they, together propose taking some 55,000. Other countries, they say, must be compelled to “take their fair share.”
This is political posturing and is dangerous nonsense.
First, dead children are not the responsibility of the Turkish or any European government. They are the responsibility of their parents. When the boat the boy was travelling on capsized and his mother, Rehan, and brother, Galip, died, there are only two people to blame: the parents. It was they who made the conscious decision to put their children in harm’s way, to expose them to risks they could not assess, to subject them to a trying ordeal to cross the world to get to a country that had already rejected them twice. It was the parents who, having paid criminals, climbed with their children and more than a dozen other people into a small boat that was so heavily overloaded it could not stay the right way up in calm waters.
At every point of that process, they had a choice: should they give up their dream of going to Canada, should they pay criminals, should they get on the boat? At each point of that process, they made the choice that led to the photographs on the front page.
Reports have kept the story on the front pages: would the boy be buried soon, and where? He was buried. The father plans to return to Syria. The father’s sister, in Vancouver, was “just completely upset and heartbroken,” her MP is reported as saying. He described it as a “tragic loss.” What should happen is that the parents who put their children at risk in this way should be prosecuted, as were the couple of played video games while locking their children in revolting caravan where, at least, they knew where they were, in a misguided and bizarre form of protection.
As winter comes, the price of the similarly bad decisions made by thousands of people will appear as a human tragedy. But it is a tragedy of their own making. No one asked them to make the journey and no one made them make the journey. For the vast majority, this is a question of the exercise of free will. In legal terms, they are “volunteers.”
Volenti non fit unjuria. (the j is pronounced as a y). It’s an old Latin tag from the legal profession. We can give it the definition “he who voluntarily and knowing the risks puts himself in harm’s way cannot complain about the consequences.”
The risks are clear but those tramping up Europe in the hope of reaching their target country, which they expect will provide shelter, clothing, food and welfare benefits, ignore them. They have already survived dealings with criminals (to whom the survival may be temporary as they may now be in debt that they or their families back home or in the destination country will pay in cash or blood), a sea crossing, brushes with authorities. They have created, for themselves, a desperate situation.
Note: they did it, Europe didn’t do it, Turkey didn’t do it (although there is at least a bit of a hint that Turkey’s general antipathy towards the Kurds doesn’t help).
Aside from the very real worry that the migration is at least in part a Trojan horse for extremism and terrorism, there is the simple fact that this is not fair.
To Germany where I don’t live and France where I do: do not talk about fair shares. That presupposes that the migration is right, that it’s OK. It’s not OK, not here and not in other parts of the world. Greece has rescued 42,000 from the risk of death from January to May this year. There is only one solution: put them on safe boats and send them back unless they are demonstrably true refugees. And true refugees must be subject to a sunset provision that they, regardless of whether they marry and have children, will be required to return when their country is deemed, by the UN, reasonably but not, of course, absolutely, safe.
It’s time that we recognised one simple truth: this is an invasion and it is orchestrated and it is coordinated. Instead of governments, it is social enterprise and criminal gangs that are organising it. Enough is enough. A soft approach has only encouraged the millions that are now moving around the world, all of whom are moving towards a future that, unless taxpayers pick up the bill, will have no alternative to turn to criminal activity to stay alive.
This is the reality, not one dead child on a beach. This is the truth we have to register and deal with, not the smiling people interviewed by the media, and who proudly say that they are coming for a better life.
Perhaps they are, and perhaps they will enrich the societies they join. After all, I’m English and we are the biggest mongrel race on earth – we don’t even have a common DNA that establishes us as a specific ethnic group. We have moved around the world, integrated and welcomed all comers to our shores and we’ve done it (except for the French in 1066) with pleasure. The only other people we’ve turned away in a thousand years are the Germans. Twice.
What we say is simply this: make a case, within our laws, for coming to our country. If your case is good, you will be welcomed.
This is not about diversity, it’s not about discrimination, it’s not about protectionism and it’s not inhumane.
The position is simple: a refugee must make his claim where he first lands. If he moves on, then he is outside the refugee system and is a criminal. If he crosses a border into another country, without being properly documented, then he is an illegal immigrant and, therefore, a criminal.
So it’s simple: deportation is the punishment for illegal immigration, back to the point where he left before arriving where he was caught.
That makes, after someone has been handed back down the chain of immigration departments that he had evaded, it Greece’s problem.
Now that isn’t fair. If France and Germany want to talk of fair shares, they should be paying their fair share of aiding those initial destination countries. Support should be given to Greece to simply pick up migrants in their boats and take them back to Syria or wherever the boats left from. Italy and France should get similar aid. The camps in Calais must be emptied before winter: the evidence of criminal activity there, and the possession of firearms, shows that the undesirable elements are significant.
As Robert Fisk said in The Independent recently, western military intervention in the Middle East is counter-productive and the forces brought home. The armed forces currently applied there, I would argue, could be better served preventing migration, including the export of the Middle East’s problems to Europe. They could police the railway lines that the migrant on-foot caravans use as highways and arrest those in possession of children for putting them at risk. If they were jailed for five years, then word would get back P.D.Q.
So called NGOs, charities with an agenda, will use the crisis as a rallying call for clothes, items that can be used for temporary shelter and food and drinks. This is a flawed strategy. They should, instead, arrange for secure transport back to their point of origin. As the summer holiday season ends, aircraft will be readily available. Again, after the first few planes arrive and the reality of repatriation sets in, word will get around and the numbers willing to take the risk will fall. And the charities should do this before the weather becomes dangerously bad.
I know it sounds heartless but it sounds heartless only because people are swayed by images of dead children. We should not be. We should not be making emotional responses and we should not be allowing ourselves to be manipulated. It’s not our problem unless we agree to make it so. And if we allow it to be our problem, it will not ever go away. Instead of fixing their own countries, they will simply go to somewhere else where, because this is the history of post war migration, they will not integrate, but instead create ghettos and then allege discrimination, so changing the face of the society they chose to move to, and ironically moving it towards the type of society they claimed to be escaping.
This is not xenophobia. It’s a harsh truth that many wish to deny and suppress.
Remember this: that child is dead because the parents committed a series of criminal acts while pursuing their own interests. Just like the Huffmires. However, the Huffmires had the excuse that their actions were declared illegal after the event. Unlike those putting themselves and their children at risk time after time, it was not a planned and carefully executed criminal enterprise.
© 2015 Jefferson Galt
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