Immigration laws to crackdown on ‘asylum shopping’

Former immigration officer discusses plans for offshore hub

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The rules, aimed at tackling migrants crossing the Channel in boats, will also make it a criminal offence to arrive in Britain ­without permission. The landmark Borders Bill is set to be introduced in Parliament this week. Writing for the Sunday Express today, Home Secretary Priti Patel has outlined her plans to overhaul the asylum system and crack down on people traffickers. The legislation comes as Britain braces itself for another summer of hundreds of illegal immigrants making the journey from France across the Channel to the UK.

Ms Patel said: “The Nationality and Bor­ders Bill contains vital measures to fix the UK’s ­broken asylum system.

“Our New Plan for Imm­igration is fair but firm.

“We will welcome people through safe and legal routes whilst preventing abuse of the system, cracking down on illegal entry and the criminality associated with it.”

Among the measures being brought into law are automatic life prison sentences for those found guilty of people trafficking.

It will also become a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission to ­be here.

The Government hopes this will “send a clear message to migrants” thinking about paying people smugglers to make ­dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK. The Bill will enter the House of Commons on Tuesday and is the first step ­in putting the Home Secretary’s New Plan for Immigration ­into law.

It also comes as the Government attempts to take ­on activist Left-wing lawyers who have tried to use legal loopholes to keep foreign criminals including murderers and rapists in Britain.

The key measures in the Bill are aimed at deterring people coming to the UK illegally. Ms Patel is set to use the Channel crossings in small boats by illegal immigrants as an example of why the new law is needed.

She will point out it is very likely those travelling to the UK via small boats will have come from a safe EU country in which they could have claimed asylum.

She will add that where this is the case, the immigrants are not seeking refuge at the earliest opportunity or showing good ­reason for seeking to enter the UK but are instead “asylum shopping” by picking the UK ­as a preferred destination over others and using an illegal route to get here.

Through the Bill, whether ­people enter legally or illegally will also have an impact on how their asylum claim progresses, and on their status in the UK if that claim is successful.

Expecting a backlash from Labour and the Left, Ms Patel will argue that these changes ­will mean that access to the ­asylum system will be based on genuine need of refuge, not on the ability to pay people smugglers.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Express she warned the “broken” asylum system is collapsing under the pressures of what are in effect illegal routes to asylum, organised by criminals smuggling people into the ­UK and often resulting in the ­loss of life.

Other measures brought forward in the Bill to alleviate the pressures on the courts and removals system include an expanded “one-stop” process.

This will stop individuals making repeated meritless claims designed to delay their removal.

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Comment by Priti Patel

The British people have simply had enough of illegal migration and the abuse of our asylum system.

Illegal immigration is driven by serious organised criminals and people smugglers and the public are rightly angry that dinghies keep arriving on our shores, facilitated by appalling gangs who profit from human misery and put lives at risk.

The Government will address the challenge of illegal migration for the first time in two decades, through comprehensive reform of our asylum system.

We will introduce new legislation to tackle this issue by going after the gangs exploiting people, deterring illegal entry into the UK, introducing new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally, strengthening our ability to remove those with no legal right to be in the UK and reforming the broken asylum system.

Through these and other measures in the legislation, we are determined to bring lasting change to the system so that it is fair to those who need our help when fleeing persecution and in need of genuine asylum. We want an asylum system that helps the most vulnerable and is not openly gamed by economic migrants or exploited by people smugglers.

One that upholds our reputation as a country where criminality is not rewarded, but which is a haven for those in need.

This Bill is the change we need to fix the UK’s broken asylum system.

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