The UK Government presented on Wednesday a plan to tighten the conditions for seeking asylum in this country in order to stop the arrival of immigrants through “illegal” channels.
In an appearance before Parliament, the Home Secretary, the Conservative Priti Patel, detailed “the biggest transformation of the asylum system in decades”, a plan that she described as “fair but firm” that aims, among other things, to “discourage” traffickers who send immigrants in small boats across the English Channel.
The initiative, which complements the new points-based immigration system introduced after Brexit, will be subject to public consultation until May 6, after which new legislation would be pushed through, Patel expalined.
According to the minister, the changes pursue three objectives: to increase the “effectiveness” of the system to support “those who genuinely need asylum”; to “deter illegal entry” into the country and “break the business model of criminal networks”; and to “be able to more easily remove those who have no right” to be here.
As part of the plan, people arriving in the UK from other “safe” countries where they may have already applied for refuge will be granted fewer facilities.
Those arriving from places such as neighboring France “are not seeking refuge from imminent danger, as the asylum system provides,” but are “choosing the UK as a preferred destination” over others, Patel said.
The Conservative government also plans to “accelerate” the process to expel those whose application is rejected and does not rule out reaching agreements with third countries to deal with the procedures.
A few days ago, Gibraltar indicated that it would not be willing to offer this service, after the press reported that the Home Office was considering locating a processing center there.
Migrants arriving in the UK on trips organized by smugglers would only be given temporary residence permits and could be deported, while more checks would be carried out to detect adults posing as minors, the government proposal states.
Criminals who charter boats across the English Channel (between France and England) could face life imprisonment and deported immigrants with criminal records who return to this country could be punished with five years’ imprisonment, compared to the current maximum of six months.
By contrast, the government plan would offer immediate permanent residency to people arriving through “legal resettlement routes,” especially from countries such as Iran and Syria, Patel said.
The minister argued that Britain’s “generous” asylum system is currently on the verge of collapse, with 109,000 applications pending, because legitimate applications are being joined by those arriving “through illegal parallel routes.”