Post COP 26: Let Them Drown in the English Channel

Sudanese migrants warm their hands over a fire near their tents in Calais, France, on Nov. 27 as they wait for their chance to cross the English Channel. (Mohammed Badra/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

More than 30,000 migrants have attempted to cross the Channel by sea this year, around three times more than 2020, as authorities have clamped down on other routes, including crossings by train and cargo trucks. Successful crossings have encouraged a growing number of migrants to attempt the journey via the Dover Strait.

… a fisherman spotted lifeless bodies and a capsized inflatable boat in the Dover Strait. Over the next hours, rescuers pulled 27 dead or dying people out of the water — 17 men, seven women and three minors.

It was the worst migrant tragedy in the English Channel in years. Only one victim, a 24-year old Kurdish woman from Iraq who wanted to join her husband-to-be in Britain, has so far been identified.

Rick Noack and William Booth, At the English Channel, plans and prayers before perilous final leg in migrants’ long journeys, Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2021

This is the system working at peak efficiency. Just a few weeks ago the world met for climate talks. They are less negotiations, and more a policy of “Let Them Drown.” In 2016, Naomi Klein delivered Edward W. Said lecture, which was recorded by the London Review of Books. She spoke about the White supremacy, patriarchy and Orientalism play into the climate, air and water crisis.

When I think of the victims who drowned trying to reach better shores, I think back to the father and daughter who died at the Rio Grande border in 2019. These accidental drownings illustrate the Anglo-American common law operating at its peak efficiency, limiting access to borders without even having
to use border patrol, forcing migrants to desperate water crossings.

The common law blocks entry to the nation’s borders by means of the “accident” of migrant deaths, not just detention and deportation. The accidental drownings are an incredibly efficient form of border control. Sending back dead bodies is easier than the process of granting asylum, dealing with the media backlash of family separation, and hearing the wails of children crying as they are ripped away from their parents’ arms. This chilling message is intended to discourage others from making the treacherous crossing. (See my article, Re-Reading Anita Bernstein’s The Common Law Inside the Female Body from the Bottom of the Well: Analysis of the Central: Analysis of the Central Park Five, Border Drownings, the Ka ownings, the Kavanaugh Confirmation, and the Coronavirus.

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Nadia Ahmad

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