The New Plan for Immigration sets out how the Government will seek to control illegal immigration now the UK has taken back control of legal immigration by ending free movement and introducing a new points-based immigration system.
The current system is fundamentally broken, and its cost has sky-rocketed in recent years and is costing the taxpayer over £1 billion each year. 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% of these claims have been in the asylum system for over one year and 62% of UK asylum claims were made by those entering illegally-for example by small boats, lorries or without visas.
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:
- Increasing the fairness and efficacy of the system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of refuge. The Government will continue to encourage safe and legal routes, strengthening our support by offering an enhanced integration package and immediate indefinite leave to remain in the UK for resettled refugees. It will fix historical anomalies in outdated British Nationality Law to help victims of the Windrush scandal. The Home Secretary will also have the ability to grant a humanitarian route to vulnerable individuals in immediate danger and at risk in their home country.
- Deterring illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger. The Government will discourage asylum claims via illegal routes, as other countries such as Denmark have recently succeeded in doing. For the first time, 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.
- Removing more easily from the UK those with no right to be here. To tackle the practice of making multiple and sequential (often last minute and unmeritorious) 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.
The Conservative Party promised to take a common-sense approach to controlling immigration - both legal and illegal – and this is what the new plan does.
As long as people are dying at the hands of people smugglers, it is right we keep all options on the table to stamp out this international criminal trade in asylum seekers. No doubt the Labour Party will oppose these plans and continue to defend the indefensible system, but we must make this work better for everyone.