The passport shredding disgrace of Ireland’s asylum system

Here is a supposition for you, and you can see whether you agree or disagree: If one person shows up at Dublin Airport with no documents and is subsequently admitted to Ireland’s asylum system, that is either a legitimate, freak case, or somebody who has gambled the system and won.

If, on the other hand, 5,000 people show up at Irish airports with no documentation, and are subsequently admitted to Ireland’s asylum system, then, to put it in plain terms: The word is out.

It should be abundantly clear that the word is out about Ireland: When 5,000 people show up in the country having mysteriously lost all their documents between boarding their aircraft, and arriving at passport control, this is not a coincidence. This is what people are being advised to do. And when all 5,000 are subsequently admitted to the asylum system, that shows that their plan is working, and that the Irish Government are being made fools of.

All of this, by the way, before we address the other point: When 5,000 people show up with no documents, there is literally no way of knowing who these people are, or what their record is, or what their intentions are. Perhaps they are honest chancers, looking for a better life. Or perhaps they are violent ideologues, having found a hole in the country’s defences. The chances are that it is the former, but only a fool would rule out any of the latter being amongst the 5,000. The person who wants to come to Dublin to blow up the American, or Israeli embassy, only has to get lucky once. The rest of us had to get lucky 5,000 times last year alone.

The astonishing thing about all of this is the continued insistence of the Government that in effect, nothing can be done about this. Once they arrive – having transparently destroyed the documents that may well disprove their claim to asylum – they must be accommodated in the system.

If this is the law, then, to quote a famous American, the law is an ass. And if you are a politician hiding behind this law, then you deserve to be covered in what traditionally emerges from the rear end of an ass.

As it is, the genuinely expressed position of the Irish state is that if you arrive here with no documents, you will be accommodated.

But on the other hand, if you arrive with documents, you may not be accommodated. Consider someone who turns up with a Brazilian passport, claiming asylum: There is every chance they may be refused entry. If that same person destroys their passport, they must be granted entry. The law as it stands actually invites people to destroy their documents.

These people are then distributed around the country, with nobody knowing who they truly are, or from whence they have truly come. You, then, pay for their accommodation and their food. Is there any other law that the state actually rewards people for breaking?

In this context, the growing public anger on this issue is not only understandable, but dramatically undercooked. In any self-respecting democracy, that this kind of loophole exists might be tolerated. But the fact that the entire political establishment insists that it cannot – and may not – be closed should provoke something approaching revolution. This is a Government that is borderline proud of its own incapacity to do the first job of any Government, and keep the state’s borders secure.

There is no reason to suspect, while this situation continues, that the numbers taking advantage of the document destruction loophole will continue to grow. Why would it fall? There are close to seven billion people on earth. Do we really think ten thousand might not be desperate enough to take advantage of this loophole this year? Twenty? Thirty?

The other thing about destroying your documents, of course, is that you can be from anywhere. It makes establishing the falseness of an asylum claim almost impossible. Are you a Zimbabwean economic migrant, or are you, absent a passport, a victim of a civil war in Angola? Yes, you might have the wrong accent, but that’s proof of nothing.

This is a joke. Except that it is not funny. Those defending it, frankly, are ridiculous. And those annoyed about it are remarkable people, given how calm they remain.

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