ON both sides of the pond, politicians have got themselves in a considerable fankle over immigration policy.

The US changed theirs last week. The good news: if you get into America via a legit application, you won’t be immediately deported. No early-morning plane trip to that well-known safe haven of Rwanda. Or even back to whence you came.

The less welcome news is that there’s a strict cap on entrants and you can’t just rock up to the border anymore.

Here in the ever-cuddly UK, delivery was taken last week of a rusting old barge in which it is proposed to house asylum seekers whose fate is yet to be decided. At the present rate of applicant scrutiny, they had better prepare for a seaborne life for some years.

The Tories were frank about their motives: they would save money on hotels (not the glamorous option the right-wing press would have you believe), and the thought of winding up on a dodgy barge with minimum facilities would surely deter unwanted migrants.

READ MORE: Ruth Wishart: King's coronation reminds us of how words matter

Since some of these arrivals have fled war, want, homelessness and famine, I wouldn’t count on the latter “bonus”, chaps.

Given the stated aim of the UK Government is, in the mantra, to “break the business model” of the traffickers, you might think that rooting the latter out would be the top priority. Not least as some are based in Britain.

But the folk the unlovely, current UK government have really taken against are those they deem “economic migrants” – AKA people who came here hoping to make a better life for themselves.

Among those who did so previously are the parents of the Prime Minister and of the present and previous home secretaries. Nothing like pulling up that old ladder behind you, eh folks?

Rishi’s folks, whose own parents hailed from the Punjab, migrated to Africa – his mum’s family to the former British colony of Tanganyika, now in Tanzania, and his dad’s to Kenya.

Priti’s Ugandan-Indian family migrated to the UK in the 1960s, as indeed did Suella Braverman’s parents from Kenya and Mauritius.

Ms Braverman, by the way, took advantage of an Erasmus scholarship to spend two years in France. You know, that scholarship which Brexit killed for all today’s students.

Of course, there are economic migrants and economic migrants. If you’ve got a tidy nest egg, e.g. you’re a very rich Russian, you could have relied on the UK to roll out the welcome mat. And if you donated to the right cause – e.g. the Conservative Party – a daud of ermine may come your way forbye.

These days, it very much depends where you are from.

Should you, for instance, want to flee war-torn Sudan, the breath should not be held for a UK visa. It was a Tory MP who asked Ms Braverman what legal route there was available to a young would-be African migrant. Answer came there none.

Those people from Afghanistan who managed to get out in the shambles of the US/UK exodus will be able to testify just how glamorous it’s not, being stuck in a hotel room unable to earn money due to our weird regulations.

To wit; it’s fine to whine about migrants costing taxpayers’ money, but not okay for any migrant to seek legitimate tax-bearing employment. As our American friends might say: go figure.

Then there was the kneejerk response to the Ukrainian war which set up a Homes for Ukraine scheme with minimal checks and even less follow up. A report last week found that some had been offered a shed; others had been expected to do unpaid chores in return. That some thought it more amenable to go home to a warzone speaks volumes.

Which is not to decry the generous instincts of many who did open up their homes and their arms. They just might have expected more in the way of ongoing support.

If you come from Hong Kong and had the foresight to acquire a British National Overseas visa, please do not assume you have won a watch. The 144 and a half thousand people who came here in the last couple of years from that former colony had to prove they had enough dosh to support themselves and their families for six months, on top of which they had to pay a health service tariff which did not cover things like dentistry. If you found a dentist.

A five-year UK visa from HK will set you back £250 per family member, while the Government wants every four-strong adult family – two parents, two weans – to be able to ante up north of £9k, to house and support themselves.

Meanwhile, every Home Office sinew is being strained to prevent any legal impediment to despatching small-boat survivors to Rwanda, a country which is only a safe haven in the eyes of the aforementioned Home Office. Or, in fairness, its boss woman.

That lovely lady you will recall once gushed that she would love to see a front page of the Daily Telegraph on sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, describing it as her “dream” and “obsession”.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury – not one of life’s natural radicals – is moved to stand up in the House of Lords and say that this policy is immoral and indefensible, a wiser Home Secretary might pause to think again.

When people pointed out the sheer inefficiency of leaving incomers in legal limbo for years, the Home Secretary said she would hire more operatives. She didn’t mention that many of the new recruits would be handed complex decisions to make without the requisite knowledge or experience.

The real sickener of all this is Tory MPs standing up and saying what a proud record the UK has in respect of asylum seekers. The UK, in fact, is currently about as mean-spirited in this department as is possible.

Plus, it is not that the UK is overcrowded or overwhelmed. The people who are feeling the strain in terms of resources are in those counties which tend to be the first port of call. In the same way as the most southern states of the US are those feeling threatened when queues form at what is effectively their front door.

The answer, however, is not to replicate the horrors of the Trump years when children were separated from parents and then lost in the system. And the answer is most definitely not to throw people on a plane to a country of which they know nothing and where they have no family or social networks.

This UK government has become adept only at passing the buck with Olympian ease to absolutely anyone else. Let the French sort the boat suppliers. Let Rwanda manage the application process. They’re fond, too, of flagging up the Australian precedent of “processing” migrants offshore.

READ MORE: Ruth Wishart: Scottish universities must champion free speech

In the beginning of this century, they were sent to Pacific islands where conditions were such that some sewed their lips together by way of protest both on one of the islands and in a remote facility, now closed, in Oz itself. Now it’s so much more civilised. These days they just turn back the boats! Don’t bet against that happening in the English channel, too, if the Rwanda adventure turns to legal dust.

With climate change, some parts of the world – bits of Australia included, certainly parts of Africa and perhaps Europe – will simply become unliveable. We’ve had a taste of that already in both eastern Australia and west-coast America.

So the chance of fewer people seeking a new life in the decades ahead is vanishingly small. That’s too important – too terrifying – a prospect for anyone to play politics with people’s lives.