Asylum rights will be slashed for migrants who arrive in Britain illegally under major reforms announced today.
Priti Patel will introduce a ‘two-tier’ system in which those who come via unauthorised routes – such as crossing the Channel in small boats – are 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.
Asylum rights will be slashed for migrants who arrive in Britain illegally under major reforms. Pictured: migrants arriving at Dover in Kent on Tuesday
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.
No right to settle under Priti’s 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’.
The Home Secretary will unveil full details later today of the biggest shake-up of the asylum system for a generation. Her scheme, dubbed the ‘New Plan for Immigration’, will be controversial because it separates asylum claims into two ‘classes’. Refugee charities claim many migrants have no choice but to come here by illegal routes.
Miss Patel said: ‘Under our New Plan for Immigration, if people arrive illegally they 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.
‘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.
Miss Patel said: ‘We will stop the most unscrupulous abusing the system by posing as children, by introducing tougher, more accurate age assessments. Profiteering from illegal migration to Britain will no longer be worth the risk, with new maximum life sentences for people smugglers.’
The Home Secretary will unveil full details of the biggest shake-up of the asylum system for a generation
Migrants who come to the UK illegally and whose claims are found to be genuine will receive a new ‘temporary protection’ status – lasting 30 months – instead of the automatic right to settle here. During that period they will be ‘regularly reassessed for removal from the UK’.
For example, if the political situation improves in their home country and they are no longer at risk, they could be sent back. They will have ‘no recourse to public funds’, which means they will no longer be able to claim benefits such as income support, housing benefit or tax credits. Access to the NHS will remain.
A Home Office spokesman said it was a ‘step change’ towards tackling the ‘collapsing’ system. ‘Access to the UK’s asylum system will be based on genuine need of refuge, not on the ability to pay people smugglers,’ he added.
More than 8,500 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats last year, compared with just 1,850 in the previous 12 months. At the end of December a record 64,041 asylum seekers were receiving taxpayer-funded support, a 37 per cent increase in just three years.
Migrants who come to the UK illegally and whose claims are found to be genuine will receive a new ‘temporary protection’ status
Asylum seekers currently receive £39.63 a week for each member of their household, plus free accommodation if they need it. Asylum support now costs the taxpayer just under £1billion a year.
Enver Solomon, of the Refugee Council, said: ‘The Government is effectively creating a two-tier system where some refugees are unfairly punished for the way they get to the UK. This is wholly unjust and undermines the UK’s long tradition of providing protection for people regardless of how they have managed to find their way to our shores, who have gone on to become proud British citizens contributing as doctors, nurses and entrepreneurs to our communities.’
He added: ‘The reality is that when faced with upheaval ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary measures and do not have a choice about how they seek safety. All refugees deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity, and it’s a stain on ‘Global Britain’ to subject some refugees to differential treatment.’
…as another 150 migrants cross to Dover on small boats
More than 100 migrants crossed the Channel yesterday, including a girl aged about six.
The total – which remained unconfirmed by the Home Office last night – is thought to be the highest this year.
In a further indication that the Channel crisis will continue after record numbers last year, at least six boats were towed into Dover.
More than 100 migrants crossed the Channel yesterday on what is believed to be the record day of the year
The previous daily high for this year was 115 on March 8 and yesterday’s total was thought to be about 150.
Many of the arrivals, who made the 21-mile journey despite very poor visibility at sea, appeared to be Vietnamese nationals.
One woman – thought to be in her early 20s – was seen wearing a beige, fur-lined jacket and scarf while carrying a Louis Vuitton-style bag.
It came after ten migrants were detained on Sunday in what was the first successful crossing in two weeks. Excluding yesterday’s unconfirmed number of arrivals, 806 migrants have reached UK shores so far this year.