Rishi Sunak gets tough on migration as he unveils new laws
Rishi Sunak announces plans to tackle illegal migration
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The Prime Minister vowed to turn away Albanians more swiftly, clear the backlog of asylum claims by the end of next year and make the Rwanda deportation plan work. He also promised to end the use of hotels to house asylum seekers at a cost to taxpayers of £5.5 million a day by switching to disused holiday parks, former student halls and unoccupied military sites.
A new small boats operational command unit made up of the military, civilian staff and the National Crime Agency to stop the crossing.
Mr Sunak insisted the crackdown is about “fairness” and admitted the public is right to be angry about exploitation of the system.
He said: “It is unfair that people come here illegally. It is unfair on those with a genuine case for asylum when our capacity to help is taken up by people coming through, and from, countries that are perfectly safe.
It is unfair on those who come here legally when others come here by cheating the system.
“And above all, it is unfair on the British people who play by the rules when others come here illegally and benefit from breaking those rules.
“So people are right to be angry because they see what I see, which is that this simply isn’t fair.
“It is not cruel or unkind to want to break the stranglehold of the criminal gangs who trade in human misery and who exploit our system and laws…
“Enough is enough.”
A judicial review on the government’s plans to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda is expected before Christmas but no date has been confirmed.
The number of Albanians, mainly young men, heading to the UK illegally has surged over the last two years and now the nationality now accounts for 35 per cent of arrivals compared with three per cent in the whole of 2021.
Under the reforms, Border Force officers will be stationed in Tirana airport in the Albanian capital “helping to disrupt organised crime and stop people coming here illegally”.
Most Albanians have claimed they were victims of modern slavery but they will now have to have evidence to back up their claims.
Other European nations return almost all Albanians arriving illegally because their home nation is a “safe country”.
Mr Sunak told MPs 400 new specialists will work in a dedicated unit expediting asylum claims from people from the Balkan state, with plans for weekly removal flights to take people back to their home country.
The Prime Minister and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have been meeting up to three times a week for more than a month to find solutions to the growing problem.
Mr Sunak has made the small boats crisis his main priority alongside restoring the country’s economic fortunes.
New laws will make it “unambiguously clear” that “if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here”.
“One of the reasons we have struggled to remove people is because they unfairly exploit our modern slavery system, so we will significantly raise the threshold someone has to meet to be considered a modern slave,” Mr Sunak said.
The number of asylum caseworkers will double and the process will be streamlined with the aim of abolishing the backlog of initial asylum decisions by the end of next year.
Raids on illegal working will increase by 50 per cent and data sharing will be restarted to end the “frankly absurd” situation where “illegal migrants” can get bank accounts.
Mr Sunak told MPs: “No one can doubt our generosity of spirit but today far too many of the beneficiaries of that generosity are not those directly fleeing war zones or at risk of persecution, but people crossing the Channel in small boats.
“Many originate from fundamentally safe countries, or travel through safe countries, their journeys are not ad hoc, but co-ordinated by ruthless organised criminals and every single journey risks the lives of women, children and we should be honest mostly men at sea. This is not what previous generations intended when they drafted our humanitarian laws.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Conservative of offering “gimmicks” and not “solutions”.
He said: “Time and time again this Government has not provided serious solutions. The Prime Minister sat around the Cabinet table the whole time.
“Where there should have been solutions, we’ve had unworkable gimmicks.
“As I listened to that statement – all of that has been said almost word for word before.”
Conservative Lee Anderson argued Labour needed to “realise that the vast majority that are coming over are not genuine asylum seekers”.
He said: “I live in a place called the real world and in the real world people know that the vast majority of people travelling here on small boats are not genuine refugees.
“Even last week at the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Albanian ambassador admitted that everybody coming from Albania are economic migrants, they’re coming here because they can’t come through a legal route by getting visas, so they come on small boats.
“So the public get it, even the Albanian ambassador gets it, we all get it.”
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