Which legal routes lead to the UK, and how is the UK preventing Channel crossings

Kent has a line of migrants waiting to be processed

The House of Lords is giving the Illegal Migration Bill close attention.

The bill is a component of the government's strategy to deal with small boat crossings after a record number of people entered the UK in this manner in 2022.

One of the government's five main commitments, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in January, is to "stop small boats.".

The following is in accordance with the Illegal Migration Bill, which was released at the start of March:.

Any illegal immigrants who arrive after Tuesday, March 7, risk being deported as a result of the law's retroactive application.

The bill underwent "amendments" as a result of pressure from some MPs.

One calls for a government report on the so-called "safe and legal" routes already in place to the UK and the potential for their expansion.

Suella Braverman addressing parliament
According to Suella Braverman, the new legislation was created in response to "waves of illegal migrants breaching our borders.".

Even though the Commons passed the bill, the House of Lords still needs to approve it.

The bill lost several votes in the Lords in June 2023. The plan for the new deportation duty to be retroactively applied to March, when the bill was introduced, was proposed by the Lords in one vote.

However, MPs could later decide to remove these amendments.

In a prior Lords debate, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby referred to the policy as "morally unacceptable" and warned that it might harm the UK's standing abroad.

There are several "safe and legal" ways to enter the UK, the Home Office asserts.

Some, however, are restricted to residents of particular nations, including Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Other asylum routes only accept a certain number of applicants:.

  • US Resettlement Program. - prioritizes people from conflict zones. 887 grants were given out in 2022 as part of this program.
  • Local Sponsorship Program. - for local community organizations to house and support refugees. 272 grants were awarded in 2022.
  • Reunion of a refugee family. - for partners and kids under 18 of those who have already received protection in the UK. 4.473 individuals received visas in 2022.
  • Mandatory Resettlement Program. – to resettle refugees who have a close family member in the UK who can provide a home. 430 refugees have been resettled through the program since 2004, but only four in 2022.

In Parliament on April 26, Robert Jenrick, the minister of immigration, was questioned about the safest and legalest ways for a young person fleeing the conflict in Sudan to enter the United Kingdom.

The UNHCR [UN Refugee Agency] would be the best place for people to present, he said. We already use them on safe, legal routes. ".

The organization, however, is adamant that "there is no procedure by which refugees can approach UNHCR with the intention of applying for asylum in the UK. ".

Those who oppose the government's proposals on asylum, like the Refugee Council, claim that they run the risk of violating international law.

A global treaty outlining the rights of refugees was signed in 1951 and is known as the Refugee Convention.

The fundamental tenet of the Refugee Convention is that refugees shouldn't be sent back to a nation where their lives or freedom would be in danger.

The government maintains that it is in accordance with international law to send migrants to Rwanda so that their asylum claims can be heard.

Asylum seekers should not be sent to Rwanda because doing so could violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Court of Appeal ruled in June 2023.

According to the government, the Supreme Court will hear the case.

The government announced in March 2023 that it would house several thousand migrants at three former military facilities in Essex, Lincolnshire, and East Sussex.

It was announced in April 2023 that the Bibby Stockholm, a barge based in Dorset, would house up to 500 adult male asylum seekers.

The new policies are intended to discourage asylum seekers from entering the UK and lower the amount of money spent on housing, according to the government.

Local councils, however, have contested the plans in court.

The Home Office wanted to relocate migrants to a nearby military base, but Braintree District Council in North Essex tried to stop them. However, the High Court ruled in the government's favor.

To finance more patrol officers and a new detention facility, the UK has agreed to give France £500 million over the course of three years.

A new Small Boats Command Center, which will unite the military and National Crime Agency (NCA), was previously announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

A Border Force boat docked at Dover, Kent.
The government has pledged improved coordination between the departments in charge of immigration.

Clarification 2 December: This article has been changed to make it clear that only a select group of people who have already been recognized as refugees or family members of refugees already in the UK are eligible for the government's "safe and legal" routes.

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