‘There's no such thing as an illegal human being’: James O'Brien despairs at use of word 'illegal' in migrant rhetoric

14 March 2023, 13:28

James O'Brien despairs at how commonly refugees are 'illegal'

By Anna Fox

Appalled that the word “illegal” has become common rhetoric for refugees, James questions Suella Braverman's intentions behind the bill, saying “you never quite know if there being malevolent or ignorant”.

Defending his opposition to the Home Secretary’s use of the word “illegal” when describing refugees crossing the channel, James O'Brien condemned the lexis saying “there's no such thing as an illegal human being”

He added: “Until their asylum application fails they are not breaking any international laws.”

James' comments come as the Illegal Migration Bill passed its second reading in the Commons yesterday, by 312 votes to 250, with the majority of Tory MPs voting for the plans.

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No Conservative MPs voted against the proposed legislation, although Theresa May and former ministers Chris Skidmore and Caroline Nokes, who have been publicly critical of the bill, did not register a vote, according to the Parliament website.

Criticising the media's coverage of the refugee crisis, James argued “we’ve got a massive problem, the British public is being manipulated into a position they don’t actually hold”.

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James said: “Everywhere you turn in the media, they are describing these people as illegal immigrants and they managed to manipulate the polling accordingly,

"Because if you ask the British public whether or not refugees coming to this country with a valid case should be deported and destined never to return, then well you would get a very different answer, than if you described them as illegal migrants.”

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The Illegal Migration Bill will remove those who have crossed the Channel into the UK to a third country such as Rwanda and be banned from returning.

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman said the bill would stretch “the boundaries of international law” without “breaking it”.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May criticised the bill in the Commons yesterday, saying, “whenever you close a route, the migrants and the people smugglers find another way, and anybody who thinks that this bill will deal with the issue of illegal migration once and for all is wrong".

Following in the footsteps of the MP's despair at the bill, James questioned: “How many ordinary decent people if polled about it, would want to abandon children, trafficked slaves, and sex workers, giving them absolutely no right of recourse or legal protection?”

Arguing the legislation “criminalises everybody who gets here”, James queried the fate of the individuals who supported the UK government in their home countries, such as “translators working in Afghanistan as a translator for the British Army”.

Critics claim the proposals break international law and they are destined to face opposition in the House of Lords, as well as legal challenges in the courts.

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