Asylum seekers are in the news again; record numbers crossing the channel; the government vowing to do everything in its power to stop them.

The Home Secretary has made the same vow many times before. She blames a broken asylum system for which for the last two years, she has had direct responsibility.

She also blamed: civil servants, the border force, the French (always good to blame), the EU, the Schengen agreement, criminal gangs, people smugglers, charities (for encouraging them).

Anyone, apart from the Home Secretary and Government whose responsibility it has been for the last 11 years.

Migration is a global problem; the growth of totalitarian regimes, western political failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, continued instability in the Middle East together are driving people to seek safety from persecution and a future for their families.

Who can blame them? What would you do to stop your children from starving to death or your loved ones being tortured? ‘Nothing is off the table’ she says.

As the son of someone was granted asylum here in previous, more hospitable times and who later fought for his adopted country and spent the rest of his life working quietly, raising a family, paying taxes, I offer some solutions.

1 Stop talking about ‘migrants’.

They are people; husbands, wives, children, orphans. Think how scared and fearful they must be to risk the lives of small children in flimsy boats on such a dangerous crossing.

They deserve the same pity and respect that was shown to my father when he arrived here alone, aged 12 just days after his father was murdered by the Nazis.

2 The problem is not as big as it seems.

More people leave to live abroad than come to settle here. France welcomes three times as many asylum seekers as we do; Germany five times. It’s not a big deal. Stop pretending it is.

3 People who arrive here show courage and initiative, they want to work, to bring up their children, to contribute to the country.

Some of them may even go on to become MPs. The vast majority have legitimate claims for asylum.

Let’s welcome those whose claim is genuine rather than criminalise them because we have made it so difficult to come here legitimately throwing them to the mercy of criminal gangs.

4 We are short of labour.

We do not have enough care workers, lorry drivers, nurses, construction workers. Our country needs more willing workers to thrive.

We have prevented EU citizens from filling those roles. Let’s offer them to those who are fleeing from persecution.

Why should controlling our borders mean saying ‘no’ to those who are eager to contribute to our society and way of life?

We condemn those who use asylum seekers as political pawns. Time we stopped doing the same?

Editor's note: This column was written before the tragic news that 27 people drowned while crossing the channel on Tuesday November 23.

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