Why does the Mail like some Afghan asylum seekers more than others?

Calling for a consistent policy is admirable. Pitting claimants against each other is not.


In a laudable (if strange) move, the Daily Mail has lately taken up the cause of Afghan translators denied asylum in Britain.

The paper whose coverage of migration is usually atrocious has argued translators who risked their lives to help British soldiers deserve their safety from the Taliban.

Sadly (and less surprisingly), the Mail has chosen to do this by setting their ‘good’ claims against other asylum seekers from Afghanistan who did not work as translators.

So today we read:

Afghans win appeal to stay in Britain but translators fear for lives

Dozens of failed Afghan asylum seekers have won a last-minute reprieve to stay in Britain – even as translators from the same country who worked with UK troops are refused a safe haven here.

The Mail reports that 57 ‘illegal immigrants’ from Afghanistan won an appeal to stay in Britain, and contrasts this will the case of translators ‘who fought alongside our soldiers against the Taliban [being] refused permission to come to the UK’.

So, is the Mail calling for asylum for all of the Afghans, or just the interpretors? The answer is not clear.

The story itself is very confused, as if it was originally about the hardships of the Afghan non-translators and the dangers they face at home, but re-nosed to compare the two sets of claimants.

In previous stories and editorials, the Mail has pointed to the scale of ‘bad’ immigration into Britain, and contrasted it with the just cause of the Afghan interpretors.

This makes it look as if migrants and asylum seekers from Afghanistan and elsewhere are complicit in the ‘Betrayal of the Brave’, (the name of the Mail’s campaign, referenced in the story).

But the distinction is a blurry one. If we are to accept the ‘deserving vs undeserving’ model, plenty of Afghans have helped British troops and ‘interests’ or contributed to rebuilding their society after decades of war. Why only focus on the translators?

And even if they haven’t helped British troops and so on, they still face deadly dangers and have rights, as the Mail story acknowledges.

Calling for a consistent asylum policy that respects the human rights of all claimants would be a virtuous move.

But it’s wholly reprehensible to separate out Afghans into sheep and goats. The Mail should make up its mind which it is doing.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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