Priti Patel will today unveil powers for UK Border Force to turn away migrant boats in a new bid to tackle the Channel crisis and shake up the asylum system
The Home Secretary’s masterplan will slash asylum rights for migrants who arrive in Britain illegally, and target trafficking gangs.
Writing exclusively in today’s Daily Mail, Miss Patel reveals how gun-wielding people smugglers forced a migrant couple to separate from their daughters over the weekend.
The parents were made to travel in another boat to the UK, adding to fears that trafficking leaves children open to awful exploitation. The two girls, both under 12, had not been accounted for last night.
Publication of the Nationality and Borders Bill today is being heralded as the biggest shake-up of the asylum system for a generation.
It will see UK Border Force granted new powers to ‘stop and redirect vessels out of UK territorial seas’, provided the French authorities agree.
Border Force will also be able to seize boats at sea, and to forcibly disembark migrants from boats when necessary.
Miss Patel said: ‘Access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need, not the ability to pay people smugglers. While people are dying and families are suffering at the hands of gangs, we have to act, and act quickly.’
Migrants who enter the UK without permission will face potential criminal charges and up to four years in prison.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, on July 4
Under Miss Patel’s new ‘two-tier’ asylum system, illegal entrants will be given far fewer privileges. Even if they have a legitimate claim to refugee status, illegal migrants will be granted only permission to stay in this country temporarily, for up to 30 months. They will be barred from claiming most welfare benefits and their ability to bring relatives here will be curtailed.
By comparison, asylum seekers who apply in advance to come here through legal routes – such as through the United Nations’ refugee agency – and are successful, will win permission to come to Britain immediately, and will be allowed to stay indefinitely. Other elements in the wide-ranging legislation include a streamlining of the asylum appeals process. Lawyers who bring hopeless immigration claims will be more likely to be hit with a bill for the Home Office’s costs.
It comes after Border Force intercepted 221 migrants on small boats on Sunday, bringing the total to have reached Britain this year to just under 6,600, compared with a record 8,400 in the whole of 2020. But Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council charity, said last night: ‘This anti-refugee Bill will drive an already inefficient and ineffective system into disarray with even worse delays and far greater expense.’
PRITI PATEL: This sickening trade in humans by vile gangs must end
By Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel
On Sunday evening, I received a call from Border Force officials, who told me a family trying to cross the Channel had been separated.
People smugglers in Northern France had, at gunpoint, forced a mother and father on to a small boat. They promised they would put their two young daughters on to the next boat. The parents protested and were threatened again.
They last saw their girls on the beach.
Stories such as this may not be the norm, but they are all too common. Whether it is economic migrants trying to game our system, or genuine asylum seekers, it is always the same vile criminal gangs, exploiting vulnerable people like human cargo for a quick payday.
It is also counter to our national interest because the same criminal gangs and networks are also responsible for other illicit activity ranging from drug and firearms trafficking, to serious violent crimes.
Daily Mail readers will know that not all crossings are families with young children – 74 per cent of those arriving by small boat in 2020 were aged 18 to 39, and 87 per cent were male.
This cannot go on and as Home Secretary I will not allow this to continue.
The way to stop illegal migration is to stop the trade in people and reform our broken asylum system.
Access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need, not the ability to pay people smugglers.
Through these common-sense measures, we are determined to bring lasting change to the system so that it is fair to everyone, writes Priti Patel
That is why today, I am introducing to Parliament the Nationality and Borders Bill. At its heart, this Bill is about fairness. Fairness for those who are fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny and fairness for the British taxpayer.
If you illegally enter the UK via a safe country in which you could have claimed asylum, you are not seeking refuge from imminent peril – as is the intended purpose of the system – but are choosing the UK as a preferred destination over others.
We will prevent these dangerous journeys to the UK by breaking the business model of the criminal gangs. Profiteering from illegal migration to Britain will no longer be worth the risk, with new maximum life sentences for people smugglers.
We will create a new criminal offence of entering the country illegally, giving Border Force more scope to make arrests, and we will increase prison sentences for those who do so. And, for the first time, whether someone enters the country legally or illegally will impact how their asylum application is dealt with.
Those who have successful claims having entered illegally will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle and will be regularly reassessed for removal from the UK. They will also have limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.
And we will stop people, who have come here illegally, being able to stay with endless appeals against their removal. It is sickening that so many people who have no right to be here are able to play the system and stop us removing them. Our one-stop process will stop this cycle of appeals.
At the same time, we will continue to be generous to refugees and welcome people through safe and legal routes. We will ensure they are given more help with learning English and with integrating into the community.
Through these common-sense measures, we are determined to bring lasting change to the system so that it is fair to everyone.
I know there will be those who oppose these plans – NGOs and the Labour Party who believe the only option is open borders and an end to immigration controls.
But while people are dying and families are suffering at the hands of gangs, we have no other option than to act, and act quickly. We owe it to that family, to those genuinely in need, and to the British public, to stop this cruel exploitation and fix the system for good.
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