You flee your war-torn country, leaving your possessions, memories, family members, friends and everything you’ve ever known behind, paying ‘people-smugglers’ everything you have. You’re penniless and in a strange place, with no help and no hope. You hear that in the UK, we take care of people. They’ll give you £36 a week- that sounds like a lot.
(It’s not. If you think it’s a livable amount, I challenge you to live for £36 a week.)
You fight and maintain and through every border you’re terrified, as surely this will be the time you’re caught and transported unceremoniously back to your place of origin, and now you’ve spent all your money, there’s no hope of a second attempt.
Miraculously, you get to a border. There’s death and violence everywhere, and rich white people in expensive cars complaining that you’re delaying their holiday. They’re going to arrive at their rented French villa hours late, because of you. They call for extra security, even the army. Because you are the problem, you, the half-starved, desperate person who has given everything you have to get to this point, not your corrupt government, not the war that was started without your consent, you who are relying on the kindness and understanding of a wealthy nation to give you a leg-up when you need it most.
At best, you get through. You are illegally in the UK and now have to apply for asylum. You will receive the £36 a week and be given a place to live, a slum on the outskirts of a grey city, where you can’t communicate because you don’t speak the language. It is illegal for you to work. You are alone. Your neighbours spit on you and question why you came here if you didn’t want to assimilate.
Maybe your application will be rejected and you’ll be sent back to Eritrea or Syria.
Or maybe you won’t get through. Maybe you’ll be rounded up and sent to a refugee camp, a space designated for 600 people, but they’ve crammed 1500 of you in there. The toilets are overflowing, you live in filth with 1499 strangers, each with a story to rival your own, and you have to fight for your life every day.
Maybe your application is accepted, maybe you are granted citizenship and allowed to work (if you can find it, without speaking fluent English and without translatable qualifications). You’d better find work quickly though, because your JSA will be stopped within 6 months. You now have limited help, though you do have access to healthcare, and you are expected to pull your weight, pay taxes, leave the council houses for people born here, and forget your culture and language, because you’re British now. You are confronted with racism every time you leave your house, the work you find is degrading and limiting, you are no longer able to connect with the people through your own language, food or culture.
And that’s what you fled your country, hid from security, and fought through the tunnel for.
Yeah right, Britian, we’re making it too easy for them, eh?