According to The Guardian, over 300 people attended a public meeting in Dunstable, a small town in the United Kingdom, on February 16 to express their worries about the recent arrival of asylum seekers at a local hotel.
Local citizens accused the migrants of sexually harassing young girls in the town, cancelling too many dental appointments, and taking up too much pavement space.
On Twitter, there was a supposed video recording of the event in which a member of the far-right Patriotic Alternative white nationalist group was heard calling the asylum seekers “illegal aliens” and urging that they be imprisoned or deported. Some audience members applauded and clapped during his speech.
Such incidents have increased in frequency across Britain due to an increase in the number of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. Many rallies have been organised in recent weeks, mostly by far-right organisations, in front of hotels that house refugees.
Only a few days prior to the public meeting in Dunstable, 15 people, including a 13-year-old boy, were detained after violent protests broke out in Knowsley, close to Liverpool. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a motel that was harbouring asylum seekers and screamed “get them out,” which led to the violence. Similar to this, on Sunday in South Yorkshire, 15 protesters were detained after anti-immigration groups and the police fought outside a hotel where asylum seekers were sleeping. Last week, Cannock saw similar protests as well.
Al Jazeera reports that there has recently been a noticeable spike in the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering the UK illegally. These individuals are travelling in small boats over the English Channel. According to official statistics, this year (during the first two weeks of February) just over 3,300 people have entered the nation, compared to more than 45,000 who did so in 2022.
Interestingly, the Times newspaper reported in early February that in 2023, Indians will make up the third-largest group of migrants entering the UK across the English Channel. According to the study, this method was used to bring in about 250 Indian migrants in January. The majority were Afghans, followed by Syrians.
Local communities, notably those residing in working-class parts of north and central England, claim that the asylum seekers and migrants are taxing the public sector and making it difficult for them to find employment, which has turned the Channel crossings into a political issue. Also, tensions have increased particularly in economically depressed places where the British government is using hotels to house asylum seekers while they wait for the results of their applications.
According to fresh statistics published last week by the UK-based advocacy group Hope Not Hate, which fights racism and fascism, “visits to hotels hosting asylum seekers from self-proclaimed “migrant hunters” more than doubled in 2022 from the previous year,” according to the Daily Express newspaper.
According to media sources, far-right organisations are mostly in charge of the anti-immigration demonstrations taking place across Britain. The Patriotic Alternative is the most active of them all. The Guardian claims that the demonstrators who fought with the police in Knowsley on February 10 were members of the organisation.
Formed in 2019 by an antisemitic, conspiracy theorist Mark Collett, Patriotic Alternative “grew out of splits in the BNP (British National Party, which is also a far-right organisation) and other groups, led by a digital savvy younger generation seeking to present themselves as a “white pride” organisation concerned with the environment and heritage”, The Guardian said.
Known for propagating neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs, the group strives to expel people of “migrant descent” and opposes all sorts of immigration unless one can establish their British lineage. According to Hope Not Hate, it has advocated the white genocide conspiracy theory, political violence, and Holocaust denial.
Members of the Patriotic Alternative made news on February 12 when they took part in a demonstration against a drag queen storytelling event in front of the Tate Britain museum in London.
The Rishi Sunak-led administration hasn’t yet commented on these demonstrations, but it has acknowledged the increase in illegal immigration and stated that it is currently drafting new legislation to combat the problem. According to numerous news sources, the government will soon begin sending asylum seekers who arrived by small boat back to either their country of origin or Rwanda.
In order to combat illegal immigration, the UK prime minister is also thinking about leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The government’s position is hardly surprising given that its top ministers have a history of constantly criticising migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Home Secretary Suella Braverman referred to the influx of migrants into England in November of last year as a “invasion.”
Other than in Britain, Ireland has seen a lot of recent protests. Thousands of people gathered in Dublin’s streets on February 6 to demonstrate against refugee seekers. A smaller counter-protest and a group of at least 350 anti-immigrant protestors clashed in central Dublin earlier in January.