By Isabel Ringrose
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Tories give refugees nothing but crackdown and chaos

The Tories promise yet more repression in the Channel, while their claims of help for Ukrainian refugees ring hollow
Issue 2803
A border Force boat patrols the English Channel for refugees

Border Force patrols – the Tories’ cruel response to refugees (Picture: Acabashi)

The Tory government promised a new crackdown after border guards in the English Channel intercepted seven boats carrying 254 migrants and refugees last Sunday. The Ministry of Defence, which has now been put in charge of border control said the crackdown will target people smugglers. It’s sure to force migrants into attempting even more dangerous crossings.

Right wingers criticised the Tories for failing to stop crossings. That’s despite new laws contained in the racist Nationality and Borders bill and the scheme to send refugees to Rwanda. The plans will mean sending some undocumented migrants who entered Britain via the Channel since 1 January to Rwanda on a one-way ticket. But the Tories will face legal challenges by charities such as Detention Action and Care4Calais.

More than 6,000 people have crossed in small boats this year—and fresh repression won’t stop them. Instead, border restrictions and the lack of legal routes force refugees and migrants into the arms of people smugglers.

Meanwhile the Tories’ failing Homes for Ukraine scheme is causing chaos. Delays in issuing visas mean some families have been forced to return to Ukraine. One whistleblower told the Observer newspaper that the scheme has been “designed to fail” and to limit the number of refugees entering. Staff say they don’t know what they’re doing after only three hours of training and are met with “silence” when suggesting improvements to the system.

Delays between visas being approved and refugees receiving emails with permission to travel is down to a backlog between two teams of civil servants. Visas for refugees are taking up to six weeks to appear. And sponsors are also ditching the scheme. In west Yorkshire, Holme Valley Homes for Ukraine said that 40 of 160 applicants pulled out because of delays.

Family members are also receiving visas at different times as children attempting to flee Ukraine are being made to wait weeks longer. Some children are reportedly being trafficked or going missing as they waited for news from the Home Office.

Rebecca Gough, coordinator of the Holme Valley scheme said, “I have seen so many cases of parents without children and children without parents so they can’t travel. This scheme isn’t good news, it’s a disaster.”

Immigration minister Kevin Foster told parliament the claim children are not receiving visas was “absolute nonsense”. Yet a week later the government admitted to ­processing problems within the Home Office. Only 11,100 of 50,000 refugees issued visas under the scheme have made it to Britain since it was launched in March.

The Tories brag about their generosity and “safe and legal” scheme into Britain. But the shambolic scheme for Ukrainian refugees, as well as the failed Afghan refugee scheme, shows that even “legal” ways into Britain are built to keep refugees out.

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