‘Europe is NOT a warzone’: Priti Patel vows ‘boomerang’ deportations for migrants who are smuggled through illegal routes in huge asylum overhaul – as more men, women and children are plucked from dinghies in the Channel by Border Force today
- Home Secretary Priti Patel will today unveil major overhaul of the asylum system
- New scheme will see asylum rights slashed for migrants who arrive in UK illegally
- Will be ‘two-tier’ designed to stop people arriving in UK via unauthorised routes
Priti Patel will today unveil a major overhaul of the UK’s asylum system which will include ‘boomerang’ deportations of migrants who arrive in the country illegally.
The Home Secretary said the changes will help ‘create safe and legal routes to give people the chance to resettle and access our asylum’ while also combatting people smuggling and dangerous Channel crossings.
Defending the need to toughen up the system, Ms Patel said the European countries many migrants travel through to reach the UK are ‘not war zones’.
She said many people could launch ‘perfectly acceptable’ asylum claims in the likes of France and Germany.
Her comments came as UK Border Force today brought more people ashore as a result of small boat crossings in the Channel, with 800 people estimated to have made the crossing so far this year.
The overhaul will see Ms Patel introduce a ‘two-tier’ system which will slash the right of migrants who arrive in the UK illegally.
A young family amongst a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel today
Priti Patel said changes will help ‘create safe and legal routes to give people the chance to resettle and access our asylum’ while also combatting people smuggling and dangerous Channel crossings
No right to settle under Priti Priti’s asylum blitz
- Illegal migrants will no longer have the right to settle in the UK, even if granted asylum. Instead, they will get ‘temporary protection’ status for 30 months, with only limited access to benefits.
- Efforts to remove those who enter illegally via a safe country to be stepped up.
- Appeals streamlined to stop last-minute legal bids thwarting the removal of failed asylum seekers.
- Judicial review process to be reformed so it is used less frequently.
- Maximum sentence for people smugglers raised to life, and to five years for foreign criminals who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order.
- Reception centres to provide ‘simple, safe’ housing while claims are processed.
- Asylum seekers must give more evidence of ‘well-founded fear of persecution’.
- More rigorous age assessments to stop adult asylum seekers posing as children.
- New humanitarian routes for the ‘vulnerable’ in ‘immediate danger’.
People who come via unauthorised routes – such as crossing the Channel in small boats – will be given far fewer privileges.
Even if they have a legitimate claim to refugee status, migrants who arrive illegally will be granted permission to stay in this country only temporarily. They will be barred from claiming most welfare benefits.
And their ability to bring relatives here to join them, currently permitted under ‘family reunification’ rights, will be curtailed.
At the same time, efforts to remove Channel migrants who could have claimed asylum in safe countries they travelled through – such as France – will be stepped up.
By comparison, successful asylum seekers who applied in advance to come here through legal routes, such as the United Nations’ refugee agency, will be rewarded.
They will win permission to come to Britain immediately and will be allowed to stay here indefinitely. The Home Secretary will unveil full details later today of the biggest shake-up of the asylum system for a generation.
The Sun reported the proposals will include ‘boomerang’ deportations which will see people arriving on UK beaches being sent within 24 hours to facilities outside the EU to have their claims processed.
Refugee charities claim many migrants have no choice but to come here by illegal routes and have slammed the proposals as ‘inhumane’.
Ms Patel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are unable as a country right now to fully help people that are fleeing persecution and are destitute in the world because of the extent of illegal migration that is taking place where people are putting their lives at risk and also fuelling criminality.
‘Whether it is buying fake passports or even paying your way to come to the United Kingdom through a safe country – France, Germany, Italy – through the back of a lorry or even in a small boat.’
Asked to confirm that the changes will effectively result in a two tier system based on how migrants arrive in the UK, Ms Patel replied: ‘We will bring in changes to the system where we effectively create safe and legal routes to give people the chance to resettle and access our asylum system, those that are fleeing persecution.’
Told that critics believe it is unfair to differentiate based on method of arrival because many people arriving via unauthorised routes will still have strong asylum claims, Ms Patel said: ‘Well, they would also have a perfectly acceptable case to be given asylum in the same countries that they have travelled from, so France, Germany, Italy, Belgium.
‘These are not war zones, they are safe countries, and it is important to emphasise that, they are absolutely playing into the hands of the people smugglers.’
The Home Secretary said overnight that under her ‘New Plan for Immigration’ people arriving illegally ‘will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive legally, and it will be harder for them to stay’.
‘If, like over 60 per cent of illegal arrivals, they have travelled through a safe country like France to get here, they will not have immediate entry into the asylum system – which is what happens today,’ she said.
A map shows the points along the coast where migrants have landed in the UK over the past year after crossing from France
The number of asylum applications lodged in the UK in the years ending December 2011 to December last year, dropping after the Covid pandemic was declared
The number of people offered protection in the form of resettlement (bottom line), asylum and alternative forms of leave (middle line) totalled 9,936 in 2020. The total number of people granted asylum or some form of protection (top line) fell by more than half that of 2019
‘I make no apology for these actions being firm, but as they will also save lives and target people smugglers, they are also undeniably fair.’
Other elements in the wide-ranging package announced today will include streamlining the asylum appeals process, and setting up reception centres to replace hotel accommodation and ex-Army barracks used during the pandemic.
It will also be made harder for asylum seekers to make unsubstantiated claims of persecution.
An independent body will be set up to determine the true age of applicants suspected to be posing as children, as revealed by the Daily Mail last week.
Jail sentences will be increased for people smugglers and foreign criminals who sneak back into the country after being deported.
A new humanitarian route will be created to make it easier to bring individuals to Britain if they face imminent danger in their homeland – as in the case of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row on blasphemy charges before she was acquitted in 2019.
Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said he feared the changes would not curtail the number of people making ‘dangerous crossings’ to reach Britain.
‘Measures are clearly needed to speed up processes and stop criminal gangs profiting from dangerous crossings,’ he said.
‘However, we fear these plans will do next to nothing to stop people making dangerous crossings, and risk withdrawing support from desperate people, such as victims of human trafficking.’
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, accused the Government of ‘seeking to unjustly differentiate between the deserving and undeserving refugee by choosing to provide protection for those fleeing war and terror based on how they travel to the UK’.
He claimed the plans could undermine the country’s traditions of providing protection for people ‘regardless of how they have managed to find their way to our shores’.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, branded the changes ‘inhumane’, adding: ‘We should not judge how worthy someone is of asylum by how they arrived here.’
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