GIBRALTAR and the Isle of Man could be asked to process asylum seekers under Britain’s tough new immigration system, Priti Patel hinted today.
The Home Secretary didn’t rule out trying to strike deals with the two territories as part of plans to crack down on Channel crossings.
It has been reported the Government wants to use them, as well as some Scottish islands, to temporarily house refugees.
Asked about the proposals today, Mrs Patel said: “All the time people are being trafficked and smuggled through illegal routes, we as a Government have a duty of responsibility to consider all options.
“We will look at third country removal and we will also do that looking alongside bilateral agreements.
“We will put all options on the table in terms of working with third countries, and countries like Denmark already exploring options like this.
“And we will continue to explore bilaterally options in terms of returning and removing people that have come to the UK illegally.”
Gibraltar’s government has reacted with fury to the suggestion it could be used to process asylum seekers.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo had urged the Home Secretary to reject such “groundless speculation”.
And he insisted the Rock, which is a self-governed British Overseas Territory, has total control of its own border policy.
In a letter to Mrs Patel he wrote: “Gibraltar is always ready to help the UK as part of the British family of nations.
“Our geography makes some things difficult, however, and the processing of asylum seekers to the UK in Gibraltar would be one of them.
“I would have made clear this is not an area on which we believe we can assist the UK.”
Mrs Patel will today announce that illegal immigrants landing on England’s beaches face “boomerang” deportation in as little as 24 hours and will be sent to the back of the asylum queue.
And “asylum shoppers” will be blocked from travelling through safe countries to settle in their preferred destination of the UK.
Taking aim at immoral lawyers and lefty armchair critics, the Home Secretary declared “no one can defend the current system” as she launches the biggest reforms in a generation to Britain’s “broken” asylum process.
People smugglers face full life sentences and immigration legal firms face their entire business being upended for helping to “support criminality” and luring people to Britain under false hope.
Ahead of a major speech today Priti told The Sun “the status quo is not an option anymore” as she warned her “mission” will take years to complete.
Throwing down the gauntlet to the PM amid suggestions she could be reshuffled out of her job, she says: “I’m here to get on and do this job” but stressed it would be “hard, hard graft.”
“This will take time and I’ll be very honest with the British people about this there’s no one quick fix, this is not a short term, this is for the long term.”
The status quo is not an option anymore”
Home Secretary Priti Patel
Priti’s landmark reforms will be based on three “firm but fair” pillars:
- FIRSTLY opening more legal paths for the truly needy from wartorn areas of the world.
- SECONDLY cutting off the smuggling routes across the Channel and their criminal masterminds through Europe.
- THIRDLY making it easier to deport people with no right to be in the UK and punishing lawyers who pursue hopeless appeals, clogging up the system
Speaking from her Whitehall office, she warned that the aim of the reforms was to stop young economic male migrants “elbowing their way” to the front of the immigration queue.
Migrants dumped onto British beaches by people smugglers face being immediately deported to facilities outside the EU where they will have their claims processed – dubbed ‘boomeranging’ by Ms Patel’s Home Office team.
Why the immigration system need reform
The Home Office said 8,500 people arrived in the UK by illegally crossing the Channel on a small boats last year.
11 people smugglers have been jailed in 2021, with 300 low level investigations ongoing.
The National Crime Agency has another 50 probes into top level smuggling networks.
In 2019 there were 7,000 “enforced returns” down 22 per cent on the year before.
Eight out of ten last-ditch attempts to avoid deportation are rejected.
And in a bid to crack down on “asylum shoppers” coming from Europe, migrants will only be handed a temporary immigration status, rather than a full right to settle.
They will also face greater hurdles meeting up with family in the UK and accessing benefits and will be house in special “reception centres” rather than hotels and houses.
She said: “If, like over 60 per cent of illegal arrivals, they have travelled through a safe country like France to get here, they will not have immediate entry into the asylum system – which is what happens today.”
But Asylum Seekers who used new “safe and legal routes” through aid agencies and charities will be welcomed with “resettlement packages” and given priority.
Priti said: “We will make sure that they are supported with English language, training and education, along with accommodation but also giving them the support that they need within the community to make a success of their new life in the United Kingdom.”
And for law firms who have thrived on hopeless immigration appeals,she said it “is simply not right that they are preventing us from removing murderers and rapists, some of the most awful individuals that have participated in terrible criminality in the United Kingdom.
“So this will lead to a fundamental change.”
And she said their activities are morally wrong, as “their usual business right now is supporting basically criminality and people smuggling and all the while people are dying. We can simply not carry on with the system as it is.”
Firms that use doomed attempts to fight deportations with repeated disingenuous appeals face being put to the wall with crippling costs for wasting court time.
The fixed recoverable costs regime will be expanded to cover immigration and asylum judicial reviews and the scope of Wasted Costs Orders will be widened to include asylum and immigration matters.
The reforms will also target the Modern Slavery Act which is being abused by criminals to avoid being deported.
That will put her at loggerheads with former PM and Home Secretary Theresa May who championed the laws.
But Priti said she “will work with everybody” to make sure the loopholes are closed which are “simply not right.”
She added: “We have to bring in changes to save lives, and bring in safe and legal routes to be not just, compassionate, but do the right thing for those people that are fleeing persecution.”
“I make no apology for these actions being firm, but as they will also save lives and target people smugglers, they are also undeniably fair.”