Don’t get us wrong, cruelty would not be ok if it came cheaper. Nor would trying to deter refugees be morally acceptable if it were easier.
But costility, the prevailing approach for decades, is the worst of all worlds. Ineffective, immoral and expensive – it combines all three!
The costly deterrents fail, and refugees are forced into danger when they travel and abuse when they arrive. Then the public foots the bill…
But money invested in welcoming and supporting refugees is well spent. Establishing safe routes into the UK, providing appropriate support and accommodation to people trying to rebuild their lives, funding welcoming communities – this approach would save lives and enrich British society…
While costility is as bad as it gets in terms of an overall approach, there’s always scope within it to spend even more and punish refugees even more severely. That’s exactly what the government is planning to do with the Refugee Ban Bill.
We laid out above the cost of detention that the ‘lock them all up’ measures in this Bill involve for one year (£2.8 billion). But these costs are estimated to rise to between £8.7 billion and £9.6 billion three years after the legislation comes into force.
We need to call this what it is: tens of billions of pounds redirected from anything constructive to punishing people who ask for the UK’s help.
Most of these costs are publicly available, others are disputed by the Home Office. But the government refuses to publish its own estimates of what its new plans for the mass detention of refugees will cost. This refusal speaks volumes.
The government fears that the public will see what a colossal rip off costility is. And eventually, the public will.
When they do, it’s important that people also see that there is another way.