‘Offshoring’ – not a term I am fond of. To be found with ‘offloading’, ‘offcasting’, ‘offending’.
‘Offshoring’. In terms of business, defined as relocating processes or services overseas and taking advantage of lower costs to improve competitiveness. ‘Offshoring’: an idea being considered by the UK government in an inhumane attempt to fix the asylum system. Loosely translated to: put them over there and they’re no longer our problem.
Plans have been revealed detailing an asylum processing centre on a remote UK territory in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the Financial Times, one suggestion was Ascension Island, an offshore location sitting 4,000 miles from the UK. However, after an assessment carried out by the Foreign Office looked into transferring migrants to the island, the proposal was abandoned. Alan Nicholls, a member of the Ascension Island council, dubbed the plans a “logistical nightmare”.
Laura Trott, Conservative MP for Sevenoaks in Kent, backed the idea, stating it would “reduce the pressure” on Kent, which was “unable to take any more children into care”. Australia has been operating offshore processing and detention centres since the 1980s, with Home Secretary Priti Patel taking inspiration from policies which have proven successful in other countries.
In my opinion, this policy would simply use geographical location to solidify migrant status as the ‘other’, reinforcing stereotypes of ‘otherness’ and perpetuating the ‘us vs. them’ mentality within British society. I cannot forget the grotesque voyeurism involved when footage emerged of Sky News and BBC Breakfast teams interviewing dinghies full of migrants while they struggled to navigate the Dover strait. In this instance, it was immediately clear how the media viewed these people as the ‘other’, almost less than human and undeserving of basic human rights. Apparently this mindset is now being adopted by the UK government and is worryingly close to being brought into legislation – a terrifying concept.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary states: “this ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive – so it seems entirely plausible this Tory government came up with it”. While I agree full-heartedly with his sentiments surrounding struggling to find the humanity in these offshoring plans, I also find it is undermined by his anti-Tory sentiments. Seemingly, migrants are yet again being used as political pawns in desperate attempts to one-up the opposition.
It breaks my heart to think it could have been any one of us in this situation, fleeing persecution and looking to the UK for asylum. In agreement with Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, a United Nations refugee agency representative to the UK, the proposal has the power to “change what the UK is – its history and its values”. Reinforcing the concept of the ‘other’ in our society is a step backwards in solving this matter, rather than the step forwards Priti Patel believes she is making. This ‘out of sight, out of mind’ tactic could soon develop into something far more sinister. And by the time that happens, none of us will have the power to stop it.