No papers?  Why might an asylum seeker lack documentation such as passports?

In recent discussions about asylum seekers, especially those coming by boat, a recurring comment was that it was illegal to try and enter the UK without appropriate documentation.  This is correct, and asylum seekers are expected to provide such documentation when turning up for their application to be processed. There are however defences available if they can show why they are unable to produce a passport or such like.

One claim made was that those coming on boats encouraged by traffickers are dumping passports, mobile phones etc overboard in the belief that this will make it harder to track their home country or other states they had passed through.  It is conceivable that this happen, however really, we are working on the basis of opinion and conjecture here, the belief that this is what happens.

There are other reasons why someone might not have documentation on them. They may have fled a regime where it is very hard to get hold of travel documentation, or where culturally it is more usual to not have a passport than have one.  They may have been prohibited by oppression or simply by the financial cost.

It is possible that they have lost their documentation on route, due to the hazards of the journey and it could well be the case that it has been confiscated off of them. This is highly likely if they are being trafficked. They may well have had to hand over their documents to the traffickers as part of the deal guaranteeing them passage. 

They may well have been persuaded by someone to hand over their documents willingly or to dump them.  They could have been convinced that it will be to their advantage to turn up without such things. However, it is worth remembering that if they have been convinced of this then they have been mislead. They may not be better off without their passport and phone in fact, this may well make them more vulnerable.  It is in fact the trafficker who benefits.

Before we jump to conclusions about asylum seekers, we would do well to exercise a little curiosity.

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