Former immigration officer discusses plans for offshore hub

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Writing exclusively for the Sunday Express today, Home Secretary Priti Patel has outlined her plans to overhaul the asylum system and crack down on people traffickers The legislation comes as Britain braces itself for another summer of hundreds of illegal immigrants making the journey from France across the Channel to the UK. It also follows a deal between the UK and Denmark to create a migration processing centre in Africa to send people claiming asylum.

Ms Patel said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill contains vital measures to fix the UK’s broken asylum system.

“Our New Plan for Immigration is fair but firm. We will welcome people through safe and legal routes whilst preventing abuse of the system, cracking down on illegal entry and the criminality associated with it.”

Among the measures being brought into law are automatic life prison sentences for people found guilty of people trafficking.

It will also become a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission to be here.

The Government hopes this will “send a clear message to migrants” thinking about paying people smugglers to make dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK.

The Bill will enter the House of Commons on Tuesday and is the first step in putting the Home Secretary’s New Plan for Immigration into law.

It also comes as the government attempts to take on activist leftwing lawyers who have tried to use legal loopholes to keep foreign criminals including murderers and rapists in Britain.

The key measures in the Bill are also aimed at deterring people coming to the UK illegally. 

Ms Patel is set to use the Channel crossings in small boats by illegal immigrants as an example of why the new law is needed.

She will point out that it is very likely that those travelling to the UK via small boat will have come from a safe European Union country in which they could have claimed asylum. 

She will add that where this is the case, the immigrants are not seeking refuge at the earliest opportunity or showing good reason for seeking to enter the UK illegally but are instead “asylum shopping” by picking the UK as a preferred destination over others and using an illegal route to get here.

Through the Bill, whether people enter the UK legally or illegally will also have an impact on how their asylum claim progresses, and on their status in the UK if that claim is successful.

Expecting a backlash from Labour and the left, Ms Patel will argue that these changes will mean that access to the UK’s asylum system will be based on genuine need of refuge, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. 

In a recent interview with the Sunday Express she warned that the “broken” asylum system is collapsing under the pressures of what are in effect illegal routes to asylum, facilitated by criminals smuggling people into the UK and often resulting in the loss of life.

Additional measures brought forward in the Bill to alleviate the pressures on the courts and removals system includes the introduction of a new and expanded ‘one-stop’ process. This will avoid individuals making repeated meritless claims designed to delay their removal.

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