This week the Home Secretary launched her new plan for immigration.
Now the Government has taken back control of our legal immigration system by ending free movement and introducing a new points-based system, it is addressing illegal immigration in order to properly control our borders.
As you know, the current system is fundamentally broken. Around 1 in 6 asylum seekers to the UK in 2019 were matched to an asylum claim in another European country. In 2020, 8,500 people arrived on small boats. 74 per cent were aged between 18-39 and 87 per cent were male. The UK has 109,000 outstanding asylum cases. Almost 73 per cent of these claims have been in the asylum system for over one year and 62 per cent of UK asylum claims were made by those entering illegally - for example by small boats, lorries or without visas. And this is all costing the taxpayer over £1 billion each year.
The New Plan for Immigration will finally fix this, and is a step change in our posture towards illegal migration and the criminals that facilitate it, based on three objectives.
1. Increasing the fairness of the system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of refuge, by encouraging safe and legal routes.
2. Deterring illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger. Whether you enter the UK legally or illegally will have an impact on how your asylum claim progresses, and on your status in the UK if that claim is successful. Those who enter illegally will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle, will be regularly reassessed for removal, will have limited family reunion rights and will have limited access to benefits. The use of hotels to accommodate arrivals will end as we move towards a reception centre model. The Government will introduce a robust approach to age assessment to safeguard against adults claiming to be children and increase the maximum sentence for illegally entering and introduce life sentences for those facilitating illegal entry.
3. Removing more easily from the UK those with no right to be here. To tackle the practice of making multiple (often last minute) claims and appeals which frequently frustrate removal from the UK, the Government will introduce a ‘one-stop’ process to require all rights-based claims to be brought and considered together in a single assessment upfront.
No doubt the Opposition will oppose these plans and continue to defend the broken system. But as long as people – including children – are dying while attempting to get to our country, I will back the Home Secretary to do whatever it takes to ensure making an illegal journey to the UK is no longer worth the risk. The only people lacking compassion are those defending the broken system.