The U.K. government has today introduced the ‘Stop the Boats’ – or Illegal Migration – Bill to crack down on illegal entry as a route to asylum in the U.K. People who reach the U.K. illegally will be prevented from settling in the country and will face a permanent ban from returning.
Since 2018, some 85,000 people illegally entered the U.K. by small boat – 45,000 of them in 2022 alone. In the last two years, small boat crossings have increased by 500%.
Under the Bill, people who arrive in the U.K. illegally will be detained and swiftly removed to their home country if safe, or another third country deemed safe by the U.K. government, such as Rwanda, where they will be supported to rebuild their lives. Anyone illegally entering the U.K. will be prevented from accessing the U.K.’s modern slavery support or abusing these laws to block their removal. Any other challenges or human rights claims can also only be heard after removal, remotely.
Under this Bill, Parliament will set an annual cap on the number of refugees settled via safe and legal routes, taking into account local authority capacity for housing, public services and the support communities rightly expect.
“The British people rightly expect us to solve this crisis and that’s what myself and the Prime Minister fully intend to do,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman said. “We must stop the boats.”
Braverman said it is “completely unfair that people who travel through a string of safe countries then come to the U.K. illegally and abuse our asylum laws to avoid removal”.
The Bill, introduced to Parliament, would mean anyone who enters the U.K. illegally and who has passed through a safe country will be legally required to be removed and the Home Secretary will have the power to enforce it. Migrants may be detained for 28 days with no recourse for bail or judicial review, and then for as long as there is a reasonable prospect of removal.
In exceptional circumstances if there is a risk that someone would suffer a real risk of serious and irreversible harm when they are relocated to that specific safe third country, they would not be removed until it was safe to do so. Even in these cases they will have a maximum 45 days to remain in the U.K. before their appeal is exhausted.
Minors who reach the U.K. illegally will not be removed to a safe third country until adulthood, except in limited circumstances.
The Bill includes:
- an agreement with Albania that recognizes their status as a safe country.
- a new dedicated unit to speed up the processing of Albanian cases – since December the U.K. has returned over 3000 illegal migrants, including over 500 Albanians.
- ending the legacy backlog of asylum claims by the end of 2023.
- reducing the use of hotels, with the government currently spending £6.2 million a day, by moving asylum seekers to cheaper alternative accommodation.
- doubling the funding for Operation Invigor, which brings together the National Crime Agency, Home Office Intelligence and U.K. policing to disrupt organized crime groups who are smuggling people from source countries to the beaches of northern France.
The Bill would also expand the list of countries that are considered safe in law – this will make it clear when someone doesn’t need U.K. protection because they are not at risk of persecution in their home country.