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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Deport and Deter

State of the Union: The fight over illegal immigration needs to move from regulation to deportation and deterrence.
Signpost,At,The,Us-mexican,Border
Credit: Chess Ocampo

The British Parliament’s new Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill aspires to be a template across the Anglosphere on the question of mass-deporting illegal immigrants. The hysterical howling from the usual suspects aside, the bill reinforces some measures that are supposed to be common knowledge but are often misinterpreted or forgotten or obfuscated. Chiefly among them: the fact that in Britain, the Parliament is the sovereign. No court, no law, no foreign authority or institution supersedes the Parliament, which remains the sole and supreme governing body in the U.K. There are no checks and balances in the British Constitution, nor are there any separations of power. The Parliament can, if it so desires (and as the Covid laws displayed) achieve dictatorial powers in a state of emergency in perpetuity. 

This creates some problems for, and a potential course of collision with, the actual rulers of the U.K. in recent years; not the MPs or the Crown, but the unelected human rights “swarm,” including the courts, bureaucracies, and the NGOs. The Bill duly points that out and directs courts to disregard any interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights. 

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This is an interesting development; we suspect we’ll see a lot more of the same in the coming years. The fight over Brexit was not just nominally over the question of British involvement in the EU. The main reason among others was that Britain, by being in the EU, was under the EU human rights regime, which claims to be above any sovereign law or governing body. In one swoop, it takes away the right of the Parliament to be the ultimate arbiter of law and justice in the country. Furthermore, by trying cases in EU human rights courts, a core common law principle is compromised: that of nemo judex in causa sua, or that an entity cannot judge itself in its own court. That superiority of EU Human Rights jurisdiction therefore made every sovereign action over laws and immigration futile. 

It is unlikely the Tories can pull this through, but it is a start. If the Western countries need to survive as coherent entities, they have to skip talking about regulating migration and instead have to lean on denial and deterrence through mass deportation. France is currently debating a controversial law that overhauls its immigration system. It would deport migrants, even ignoring any ruling from the EU human rights courts. The U.S. House of Representatives is finally waking up to reality and debating legislation that might end “birthright citizenship for illegal aliens,” even if that goes against human rights laws. 

That’s not enough. As Suella Braverman argued recently, unless the international human rights architecture that was created after the Second World War is dismantled, nothing is going to change. This would mean ignoring criticism from human rights courts and going after the roots of mass migration; and would include punitive measures against anyone who employs an illegal immigrant, as well as anyone who facilitates human trafficking, from foreign governments and cartels to NGOs and human rights orgs. It would eventually mean mass deportation of anyone who arrived illegally, regardless of the financial and political cost. The lesson should be that people who break laws are not welcome and will never be welcome; for those who refuse to learn that lesson, there will be hell to pay. You cannot deter something by playing nice. 

International human rights laws are polite fictions that civilized countries adopt and follow in a gentleman’s agreement. They allow mala fide actors to take advantage of charity, and it is about time that their architecture is destroyed. All that is wanting: strong political will.