6 October 2009

Panorama "Migrants: Go Home!"

Last night's Panorama looked at the route taken by African migrants and asylum seekers into Europe and the UK. It followed the "chain" of movement through Libya, Italy and France that is being "pushed" back by the authorities. Along the route, migrants experience highly dangerous transportation, cramped, squalid living conditions and political oppression, simply for having the will to move away from violence and extreme poverty.

Phil Woolas justifies these actions as the means to drying up the market exploited by human traffickers:
We call it pushing a chain. It's very difficult to push a chain, but we're trying to push a chain back down the route so that when the people traffickers say 'come this way, you economic migrants, come this way to France or to Germany or Sweden or Britain', we can show that the route is closed.
However without the border controls that produce such stringent limitations on people's ability to move, the traffickers would have no market to exploit. Immigration controls are basically the prohibition of movement, and like all forms of prohibition, it creates far more problems than it solves.

I also can't ignore the Woolas's horrid term "you economic migrants". This is the sort of 'us and them' language that sows the seeds of division and derision.

In particular, anyone who has seen District 9 should watch the show (and anyone who hasn't seen it should; I refer you to Charlotte Gore's spot-on review). The stark similarities between the themes of the film and the documentary show that the film was not just about South African apartheid but also about the way that brutal way humans treat anyone seen as outsiders.

(Handy BBC iPlayer embed code from http://upyourego.com/pip/)

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