The Government insists the plan will be “fair but firm” and will put those with a genuine need for refuge at the heart of proposals, as well as pledging to tackle people smugglers and remove people from the UK who have “no right” to be there.
The PA news agency takes a look at the plans:
The Conservative election manifesto promised to change the immigration system, with the Government for some time vowing to reform the asylum system, having described it as “broken” and “overwhelmed”.
Wednesday’s announcement is part of a swathe of policies the Government now plans to implement, focusing on how claims for asylum are processed and who could ultimately be granted protection and permission to remain in the UK.
According to the Home Office there are 109,000 outstanding claims for asylum waiting to be processed, with 52,000 of those awaiting an initial decision.
Around 62% of all claims are made by people who have entered the UK “illegally”, and 42,000 failed asylum seekers are still living in the country, the department said.
Last year, about 8,500 people arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats and the majority claimed asylum, the Home Office said. Around 800 are estimated to have made the crossing so far this year.
– What are the key points of the plan?
Ms Patel put forward three “fair but firm objectives”:
1. To support those in genuine need for asylum
2. To deter illegal entry into the UK
3. To remove more easily those with “no right” to be in the country
For the first time, whether someone enters the UK legally or illegally will have an impact on how their asylum claim progresses and on their status in the UK if that claim is successful, the Home Office said.
The Government has insisted that safe and legal routes will still be made available to refugees, and those coming to the UK in this manner will be granted immediate indefinite leave to remain.
– What has been the response so far?
Ms Patel described the system as “open to gaming by economic migrants and exploitation by criminals”, saying this was “eroding public trust and disadvantaging vulnerable people who need our help”.
But the plans have been condemned by campaigners and charities, with some branding the plans to judge asylum seekers on how they arrived in the UK, and not on merit, as “inhumane”.
Some immigration experts suggested the changes could “reduce” the amount of protection offered to “possibly the majority” of people who make asylum claims in the UK.
A public consultation has been launched and is open until May 6.
After that, the Government is expected to bring forward a Sovereign Borders Bill for consideration in Parliament in order to put the plans into law.