Amnesty International have said that the new immigration bill which has passed its second reading in the Commons, gives authorities new powers to make seeking asylum even more difficult. It is felt that this will only cause more ‘chaos and delay’ to the UK’s already ‘dysfunctional’ immigration system.
The new bill will allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a ‘safe third country’and to submit claims at a ‘designated place’ determined by the secretary of state. It would also mean that anyone knowingly arriving in the UK without permission would be committing a crime, and Border Force officers would have the power to turn back migrant boats using ‘reasonable force if necessary’.
Amnesty UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, Steve Valdez-Symonds said: “Criminalising people for trying to reach a place of safety is morally and legally indefensible”.
“People cross the Channel and put their lives in serious danger because there is no other alternative open to them”.
“Unless MPs drastically amend this bill, we will end up with even more chaos and delay in our dysfunctional immigration system”.
Victoria Atkins, Home Office minister says that the government want an immigration system that is ‘firm but fair’, with ‘safe routes for people to come legally’ together with ‘cracking down on these criminal gangs that are exploiting people’s wishes to come to this country. Many of those who reach the UK are not claiming asylum in the first safe country they enter.
Ms Atkins went on to say: “We’ve only to see the movement patterns across the EU towards the French beaches and then the boats coming across to see that people don’t seem to be taking up the opportunity to claim asylum and seek safety in other countries in the EU that are perfectly safe”.
“The message we really have to get over to people is that if you’re landing in the EU it is a safe set of countries and that is where you should be seeking asylum”.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary says that the bill will address the UK’s ‘broken asylum system’ as record numbers of migrants risk travelling on small boats across the Channel.
There have already been more people crossing the Channel in small boats this year so far than there were in all of last year, according to Home Office information.
Chief executive at Refugee Action, Tim Naor Hilton said that the growing number of crossings ‘shows the government’s get-tough-quick schemes do not work. He added: “Criminal smugglers prey on refugees who have little choice than to risk their lives in small boats because ministers refuse to create more routes to reach safety here”.
“The government’s cruel anti-refugee bill will do little to stop the crossings. It is unworkable, unlawful and will end up an expensive disaster that criminalises people who are simply asking for our help”.
Clandestine channel threat commander for the Home Office, Dan O’Mahoney said: “There is an unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings across the channel because of a surge in illegal migration across Europe”.
“The government continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration through the Nationality and Borders Bill which will protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings”.
“The government will continue to return those with no legal right to remain in the UK”.