Home Secretary Priti Patel delivering her statement
Home Secretary Priti Patel delivering her statement

On Wednesday 24 March, the Home Secretary made a statement on Government plans to make changes to the asylum system.

The Home Secretary described the current asylum system as “broken” and “collapsing” under the pressure of people arriving into the UK illegally, facilitated by criminal smugglers. She said the Government’s new system would be driven by three objectives: fairness in the system; deterrence of illegal entry; and easier removals of people.

The Home Secretary outlined that people arriving into the UK under new safe and legal resettlement routes would be given indefinite leave to remain and support. Those who arrive in the UK illegally, having passed through a safe country first, will be removed. Those who cannot be removed would be given a temporary status and regularly reassessed for removal. A new “one-stop process” will also require all claims to be made upfront so appeals to removal decisions are limited.

The Government has been in charge of the asylum and immigration system for 11 years.

In that time, we have seen asylum processing rates become appallingly slow. The share of asylum applications that received an initial decision within six months fell from 87% in 2014 to just 20% in 2019.

The blame for that rests with nobody else but Government Ministers and the leadership at the Home Office.

While the Home Secretary spoke about the importance of safe and legal routes, the Government’s current resettlement scheme is suspended. The Dubs scheme was also shamefully closed down after accepting just 480 unaccompanied children rather than the 3,000 expected.

I believe the Government’s policies in this area are defined by a lack of compassion and a lack of competence.

I fear the reality of the measures announced by the Home Secretary is that they will do next to nothing to stop people from making dangerous journeys while risking withdrawing support from desperate people.

As the Government looks to implement these changes, I will continue fighting for a fair and humane asylum system.

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