"Enough is enough."
Rishi Sunak has pledged to bring forward new legislation to combat illegal immigration, declaring that anyone entering the UK unlawfully will not be allowed to stay.
The Prime Minister made a number of announcements in the House of Commons on December 13, 2022.
He stated that the legislation would be introduced early in 2023 and it stated that anyone entering the country illegally or without proper documentation “will be detained and swiftly returned either to [their] home country or to a safe country where [their] asylum claim will be considered”.
Sunak stated that people entering the country unlawfully “should have no right to re-entry settlement or citizenship” and that they “should no longer be able to obstruct removal attempts with late or bogus claims or appeals”.
To make sure that the UK “remains a safe haven for the most vulnerable”, the Prime Minister promised to collaborate with the UN Refugee Agency to provide additional legal pathways.
Sunak asserted that the best course of action is one that is also morally correct. People coming here illegally is unjust.
He said: “Enough is enough.”
The Liberal Democrats said the government’s measures would “weaken crucial protections for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery”, while Labour blasted the announcements as mere “gimmicks”.
Rishi Sunak promised to resolve the backlog of asylum applications by the end of the next year in the Commons.
But Downing Street has subsequently clarified that this promise only relates to claims lodged before June.
This amounted to 92,601 first asylum petitions, according to the Prime Minister‘s official spokesman, who also said there is no set timeline for eliminating the full backlog, which in September was over 143,000.
How have refugee charities reacted to the latest government plans?
Tim Naor Hilton, the CEO of Refugee Action, termed it “a shameful day” for the government.
Hilton emphasised that most of the reforms were harsh, useless, and illegal and would not address the system’s core issues.
What is Rishi Sunak’s 5-Point Plan to tackle illegal immigration?
The PM announced five key points to his plan to tackle illegal migration:
- A new small boats operational command to bring together agencies trying to tackle Channel crossings.
- Extra resources to be freed up to increase the number of raids carried out by immigration officers.
- New sites, including disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites, to house asylum seekers – with 10,000 spaces identified costing half what is now being spent on hotels.
- A doubling of the number of asylum caseworkers and a streamlined process – with a promise to abolish the backlog by the end of next year.
- A new agreement with Albania to speed up the return of asylum seekers to the “safe” country, including Border Force officers being embedded in Tirana airport.