Letting in economic migrants 'weakens the case' of refugees, claims Lord Dubs

Posted On: 
24th August 2017

European governments must get 'tough' on economic migrants or risk disadvantaging genuine refugees, according to the Labour peer who campaigned to let unaccompanied children into the UK.

Labour peer Lord Dubs said governments must be 'fairly tough' on economic migrants

Lord Dubs, who fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, said those who are fleeing for their lives should take precedence over people trying to escape economic hardship.

He expressed fears that the human rights of refugees were being undermined because legitimate refugees were being bracketed along with economic migrants.

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“[Refugees] surely have the highest of all claims,” he told The Times.

“So I would argue that one has to be fairly tough and say that provided we have a fair system with appeals for determining asylum claims, that should be fairly tough on people who don’t meet the criteria.”

“Much as I have sympathy for people who are fleeing poverty and famine, I just think we have to be careful,” he added.

“And I think we have to say bluntly that the refugee convention is fundamental. If you weaken the concept of being a refugee, you’re doing damage to human rights.

"Because although economic migrants may have worthwhile justification in terms of saying that their conditions are so appalling in poverty that they need to get out, that will weaken the case of people who are actually fleeing for their lives.”

The peer was behind a campaign last year for the Government to take in some 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees living in makeshift camps in northern France. 

Although ministers accepted an amendment to the Immigration Bill to support a "specified number" of child refugees, but controversially stopped the scheme earlier this year, with just 350 children having been taken in. 

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she had taken the decision after consulting the French authorities, who said the Dubs scheme "encourages people traffickers".