The Home Office MP Account Management Team: We are fixing a broken asylum system and creating a new one which will be fairer and firmer and compassionate towards those who need our help.
This post will be updated as reports come in about how the Government may plan to do this:
24 March: Government Consultation process announced – responses to be filed by 6 May 2021 11.45pm: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-plan-for-immigration
Priti Patel’s statement today: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/home-secretarys-statement-on-the-new-plan-for-immigration
Statement by Nazek Ramadan, director of StatusNow4All signatory organisation Migrant Voice
Home Secretary Priti Patel’s proposed “biggest overhaul of the UK’s asylum system in decades” is based on false premises – particularly on the actual availability of legal routes – and tears apart the principle of the right to claim asylum.
The proposals create a two-tier system that punishes those who manage to find their own route to safety and condemns them to a life in limbo with restricted rights.
People fleeing persecution and death have the right to seek sanctuary. That is the starting point, and no policy should undermine it. We are dealing here with human beings: they cannot be treated like commodities.
The only way forward is the creation of legal routes for people trying to protect their lives. Yet the Home Office proposals do not tackle how more legal routes can be established. Its only example is the current “generous” limited international resettlement scheme that resettles only 1 per cent of those who need it and are recognised by the United Nations. The other 99 per cent are left abandoned for years in harsh conditions. Our fear is that the government will use the resettlement scheme to severely reduce the number of people accessing protection in the UK and create offshore asylum processing centres that leave vulnerable people stuck in precarious, uncertain situations for years.
The government’s rhetoric about people smugglers is a diversion. Smugglers are irrelevant in this equation: they are the product of current policies, opportunistically filling a gap in the market. Legal routes would put them out of business immediately.
The idea of the two-tier system is dangerous. It runs counter to every human instinct and every treaty and law on international protection that allows you to seek safety in any way possible. In reality, most of those ways are clandestine. While we call for more legal and safe routes and for an improvement on existing resettlement routes, it is unacceptable to punish those who are simply trying to reach safety and do what anyone of us would do.
Australia’s asylum processing centres on the islands of Manus and Nauru have been widely condemned for systemic abuses, and human rights violations
Eight years and the equivalent of £5bn. Twelve deaths and thousands of lives damaged, disrupted, and left in limbo. Australia’s “offshore processing” regime for asylum seekers achieved little and resolved less, a refugee held at the heart of the system for seven years has said.
“Australia has created a tragedy,” journalist and author Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian Kurdish refugee detained on Manus Island, told the Guardian. “I don’t think the people of the UK want their government to create the same tragedy in their name.”
The UK home secretary, Priti Patel, is expected to publish plans this week to overhaul Britain’s asylum system, including legislative changes that would allow the UK to send migrants who have claimed asylum to be sent to processing centres in third countries.
Information from signatory organisation’s FOI request No Deportations: Home Office Spends £13,354 per Person on Deportation Flights
The cost of removing people from the UK by charter flight during the last three months of 2020 was £13,354 per person – more than 100 times than the average cost of a ticket on a scheduled flight, and a 11.5% increase on the same period in the previous year. A freedom of information response obtained by the organisation No-Deportations stated that between October and December 2020 the Home Office spent £4.3m deporting 322 people on 23 charter flights – which amounts to £13,354 per deportee.
Many of the 23 charter flights the Home Office used in that period had fewer than 10 passengers onboard, and some as few as five. The Home Office said the small numbers flying were due to last-minute legal challenges by deportees. In the last three months of 2019 the cost of removal on a charter flight was equivalent to £11,975 per person.
The figures showed a tenfold increase in the number of people removed on charter flights, from 37 people in 2019 to 322 people in 2020, and a sixfold increase in the number of charter flights used, from four to 23. There was also an increased use of charter flights to EU countries at the end of 2020 before the Brexit deadline. Under EU membership there was a mechanism to return asylum seekers to the first safe European country they passed through, but this returns scheme is no longer available to the government.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/pFJvtq
Update 21 March 2021: From a Network member regarding the Government press release of today, below: “Thousands of people trafficked and abused do not go to the NRM process because they fear this kind of treatment. Unbelievable!!!”
We abhor the divisive, emotive and noxious wording used by the Government in this press release.
Please also see our page: https://statusnow4all.org/modern-slavery/ for reports about how the system does … or does not work to protect victims of slavery/trafficking.
Government press release: Alarming rise of abuse within modern slavery system
Major increases in child rapists, people who threaten national security and failed asylum seekers clogging up modern slavery system.
… but that is simplistic and emotive language as we know. There is more information about modern slavery here: https://statusnow4all.org/modern-slavery/
19 March 2021 Guardian: Asylum seekers ‘could be sent abroad by UK to be processed’
Reports suggest using Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or paying third countries in an Australian-style system
Asylum seekers could be sent to processing centres abroad under the home secretary’s plans to overhaul the immigration system, according to reports.
The British overseas territory of Gibraltar is a location under consideration by officials, according to the Times, as well as the Isle of Man and other islands off the British coast.
Priti Patel has vowed to stop migrants making the perilous journey across the English Channel and is expected to publish details of plans overhauling the UK’s asylum and immigration system next week.
The Times said the plans will include a consultation on changing the law so that migrants seeking asylum can be sent to processing centres in third countries.
A report in the Mail said that discussions had been held with a number of countries outside the EU about taking the migrants in return for money, similar to a controversial scheme operated by Australia.