A label used by certain sections of the British tabloid press
in their relentless
campaign against the 'tide
' of people trying to enter the UK. The term was also used by the former Home Secretary Jack Straw
The Daily Express ran a concerted campaign against bogus asylum seekers in summer 2001, running inciteful headlines every day for weeks. The plan, devised by the Express's new owner, porn baron Richard Desmond, was partially sabotaged by the journalists on the paper. There is no love lost between the staff and new owners of the paper, and there ended up with the strange situation of screaming headlines such as BOGUS ASYLUM SEEKERS SMUGGLE SADDAM'S NERVE GAS! prefixing entirely unrelated articles which put forward an altogether more balanced view.
The ironic truth is, yes, many of these people are not really fleeing a credible fear, but are actually economic migrants. The irony is in the way the immigration policies in the UK mean that skilled, educated workers have to pretend they are refugees from Kosovo or Afghanistan in order to gain entry to the country.
These people are resourceful enough to reach the UK, paying large sums of money, enduring massive discomfort, and risking imprisonment and physical harm, yet they are forbidden from working and locked up in detention centres. The possibility that this sort of initiative would be a valuable addition to the UK workforce never seems to occur.
The classic argument against allowing unrestricted immigration, is that migrant workers they take jobs away from local workers. This argument fails on several points.
Firstly it falls victim to the old 'pool of work' fallacy. This treats the economy as if there were a static number of jobs available, meaning any addition to the pool of labour is at the expense of existing jobs. In truth, the labour market is not a zero-sum game. New workers stimulate the economy. They increase demand for goods and services, which in turn creates more jobs. They pay taxes, which fund more public spending, stimulating the economy further. Qualified economic migrants arriving in the country and taking skilled jobs in one of the sectors with labour shortages improve the average income and standard of living of the country as a whole.
Unskilled workers arriving and taking the jobs that local people don't want are an inevitable and vital part of any society where the standard of living is improving. People may have better jobs, but someone still needs to flip the burgers. There is an argument that an the economies of the US and Europe could not function without the large numbers to illegal workers doing the unwanted jobs.
To all the politicians looking for an answer to the problem of 'bogus asylum seekers', one could suggest this: make economic migration a positive factor, rather than a disqualifier. You then remove the absurd incentive for false applications, and help the economy at the same time.