Everyone is familiar with the tragedy of the illegal immigrants being forced to work in dangerous jobs, like the unfortunate Morecambe Bay cockle pickers, 21 of whom drowned in 2004 when caught by the tide. But cockling is not the only job illegal immigrants are forced to perform.
Back in 1997, when I lived in Cardiff, I once had my mobile phone stolen by a pickpocket. Mobile phones those days were mostly unwieldy bricks – so my phone was hanging off my belt from a clip. The pickpocket simply snatched the phone and ran.
I chased the thief – I was furious at being taken so easily, so I ran really fast. So fast, I followed the thief all the way to his house.
His wife was holding the door open for him, his terrified children by her side. He tried to lead me away – but it was obvious was was happening.
At that point I lost my anger. If I had caught the thief before he reached his house, I might have given him a sound thrashing. I was a hothead back then – when two muggers stepped out of the shadows a few weeks before, and asked me what I had in my briefcase, I said “cocaine”. I didn’t have any cocaine, I just wanted to stir them into attacking me, so I could concoct a story of self defence, over what happened next. Sadly they decided to slink away. But those kids, the fear in their eyes, his wife – these were good people in a horrible situation. The kids were dressed in worn clothes, which had been meticulously patched. The wife was helping her husband. Her husband never offered me the slightest violence – he was frightened, but even in this extreme he would have protected his children, by submitting to a beating, to save them from my anger.
In the end I paid his British slave master £50 to get my phone back. I was making heaps of money, it was nothing to me. But that day I learned about the people smuggler gangs, and how they operate, and I realised something important.
That illegal immigrant wasn’t stealing from me because he wanted to. He was stealing from me, because he had a wife and family, and relatives back home, and the British criminals I paid off would have hurt them, if he didn’t do what they wanted.
Some people think that giving these poor people citizenship would somehow free them from this thrall. It wouldn’t. The illegals are people with no job skills, little or no command of English, very little prospect of a legitimate income, and a huge debt owed to the people smuggler criminals who brought them to Britain. A mountain of debt which can only be repaid, if ever, by doing whatever the British criminals tell them to do. Whether that be picking cockles in insanely dangerous conditions, or stealing and committing crimes.
What would giving such victims citizenship do for them? Giving illegals citizenship would do nothing to change the fact that they still owe money, that the smugglers know where they live, and where to find their relatives, back in the old country – relatives who are depending on them, for whatever pittance they can send home.
There is only one way to help people like that poor immigrant thief I met – stop them from coming in the first place. The people smugglers entice their victims into handing over their life savings, into running up impossible debts, with a golden lie, by proving with phone calls and letters, how many people in their “care” reached the promised land.
But as Australia has demonstrated, you can falsify this lie, by turning back the boats, by making it impossible for the victims of people smuggling to reach Britain’s shores. Any other course of action leads to ever more victims being enticed into a life of indescribable misery. Because once the victims of people smuggling reach Britain, once you have to look into their eyes, into the eyes of their frightened children, into a pit of misery and despair from which there is no escape, you have lost.