IN LETTERS to The Press (August 10) reference is made to ‘illegal immigrants’ crossing the Channel to claim asylum here.

However, that is their legal right under international law.

The UK signed the UN Convention on Refugees in 1951. People fleeing war zones or in fear for their lives are free to seek refuge here. They must travel to the UK to do so, and cannot apply from another country. They have the legal right to be here while their case is examined.

They are therefore not doing anything illegal. Boris Johnson calls their activity ‘criminal’. That word is used in ignorance, or deliberate provocation; it is totally untrue.

One letter claims that ‘Welcome ashore’ is the reaction of border officials. However, Government policy since 2010 has created an environment hostile to immigration.

Under that policy, asylum seekers are not entitled to any public benefits, nor to rent houses, open bank accounts, apply for driving licences, or do paid work. They are kept in destitution while the Home Office examines their case, which can take months or years.

If an asylum seeker’s case is rejected, they can be detained for an indefinite period. Recently, asylum detention centres have been subject to inquiries due to deaths and abuse of those held there and in transit to removal flights.

Does any of that sound like ‘Welcome Ashore’?

Paul Wordsworth, co-ordinator of York City of Sanctuary