Giles Fraser in The Guardian:
He is not one of my regulars. From Cameroon, he says. And hungry, poor bloke. I can tell he’s had to swallow a lot of pride to beg for food at my door. I apologise to him, say that because we’ve just made a delivery to the food bank, the church is out of supplies. And personally, I haven’t done a shop in days. I rummage around in my cupboards and come up with an avocado and some spaghetti hoops, which really isn’t good enough. Is there any work out there, I ask him. It’s hard to find without the right papers, he says. Bloody Home Office, I say. He smiles.
We are so hypocritical about borders. We cheer when the Berlin Wall comes down. We condemn the Israelis for their separation barrier and Donald Trump for his ludicrous Mexican fence. But are we really so different? We also police our borders with guns and razor wire as if we had some God-given right to this particular stretch of land. Through the random lottery of life, I have a UK passport. I didn’t work for it or do anything whatsoever to deserve it. In economic terms, I just happened to be born lucky. My new friend from Cameroon, not so much.
Within our own borders we complain at any suggestion of a postcode lottery. When the north of England has a different standard of healthcare to the south, we consider it a scandal. But when the global north has a radically different standard of healthcare to the global south, we think that’s just the way it is. In fact, it’s far worse than that – we somehow think it our duty to fence off our advantage, to protect it against those who would share in our good fortune.