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One-way ticket to Rwanda ? Boris Johnson's cruel refugee tactic meets Kagame's shady immigration handling

Kohnert, Dirk (2022): One-way ticket to Rwanda ? Boris Johnson's cruel refugee tactic meets Kagame's shady immigration handling.

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Abstract

Boris Johnson’s populist policy against immigrants and asylum seekers, dumped in detention camps in Rwanda, may not succeed because of legal constraints. Yet, his political agenda will probably work nevertheless, given the growing xenophobia among his electorate. Against expert advice, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised the autocratic ruler in Kigali, Paul Kagame, responsible among others for retribution killings of his army (RPF), to transfer an initial £120m to deter the migrants and to make them 'settle and thrive' in Rwanda. However, London would have to pay much more in the proposed 'economic transformation and integration fund' for the current cost. It is highly unlikely that Rwanda will be able to cope with additional immigrants as it is already struggling to accommodate its own more than 130,000 refugees. Moreover, in the past, also Denmark and Israel had tried in vain to execute similar policies to get rid of undesirable migrants and settle them in Rwanda and Uganda. Johnson's scheme reminded Britain's foremost historian of Nazi Germany, Sir Richard Evans, of Hitler's ploy to deport Jews to Madagascar. Thus, policies purported to aim at 'migration control' may not control migration, but reconfigure potential host societies along ethnic, racial, linguistic, and xenophobe lines. The burden of colonial heritage persists in attempts to reject 'strangers' through populist politics, culture and public discourse. This policy was revived and adjusted in the post-Brexit era, as exemplified by the preferential treatment given to Ukrainian migrants. Racism works best when it's overtly selective. Treating some migrants as “worthy” and others as “undeserving” avoids accusations of racism. It allows racist voters to be fooled into believing that they are personally virtuous while secretly or unconsciously indulging their basest instincts.

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