Statement on the government's response to recent refugee Channel crossings

"The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) is deeply concerned by the government’s disproportionate response to recent attempts by refugees to cross the Channel in small boats. We were appalled to see comments made by the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon which seek to criminalize refugees, and fan the flames of division. Rather than bowing to pressure from the far-right, the government should be condemning such divisive rhetoric. As Jews, we know all too well what the consequences of such language can be.

Many of the refugees seeking to cross the Channel have fled from conflict and persecution, placing themselves at the mercy of racketeers and human traffickers both en route and on arrival, if not intercepted and incarcerated by UK authorities. Threatening to use navy warships against such vulnerable people is both morally reprehensible and unlawful, and indicative of the Hostile Environment, which the Home Secretary has promised to review, at its very worst. Such crackdowns and increased border security will only force refugees into taking even more dangerous routes.

If the government is serious about tackling people smugglers and hazardous channel crossings, then it must take responsibility and provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary. This must start by ensuring that commitments to refugee family reunification can continue after Brexit. From 1938-1940, the government brought 10,000 mainly unaccompanied Jewish children out of occupied Europe to safety, through the Kindertransport – it must show this compassion again today.”