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Patel announces tougher asylum system but migrants keep crossing the Channel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Priti Patel relishes her reputation as Britain's most hardline Home Secretary in living memory

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced major changes to the asylum system ostensibly to deter illegal migration into the UK.

As part of the changes, for the first time, people arriving as refugees on Britain’s shores will have their claims assessed on how they arrived in the country in the first place.

Addressing the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 24), Patel claimed the government is intent on introducing a “faster and fairer” system that would “better support the most vulnerable”.  

"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 asylum system, but are picking the UK as a preferred destination over others", Patel added.

Patel’s plan was immediately decried by shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, who told MPs the government “risk making the situation even worse for victims of human trafficking as it would make seeking help in the UK even harder”.

"The government policy is defined by a lack of compassion and a lack of competence, the plans risk baking in to the UK system the callousness of this government's approach", Thomas-Symonds added.

Beyond political maneuverings in Parliament, there are serious doubts as to whether Patel’s plans can deter the complex people smuggling networks that help people enter the UK illegally.

To illustrate the challenges facing the Home Office, only yesterday (March 23) six boats with 183 migrants on board reached British shores after crossing the English Channel.

At a broader level, there were 35,099 asylum claims lodged in the UK during the year ending March 2020.

Of these more than 8,000 people made the perilous journey across the English Channel in small boats.


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