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HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Present asylum system is unfit for purpose

Our Kingdom’s history is graced by the willingness of Britons to provide a safe haven for those in desperate need. We should be proud that providing refuge to those experiencing persecution is a long standing, just and noble national commitment

But it is strikingly clear that our present asylum system is unfit for purpose. Britain’s role as a good Samaritan is being undermined.

Many migrants travel to the United Kingdom through a multitude of safe, prosperous nations in which they could claim asylum. One in six of those allegedly seeking a ‘safe haven’ in the UK (2019) were matched to an existing asylum claim in another European country.

MP Sir John Hayes
MP Sir John Hayes

Last year, of the 8,500 individuals entering our country illegally on small boats, 74% were aged between 18-39 and 87% were male.

Indeed, it is a great injustice that those migrants who are strong and healthy enough to cross the Channel in pursuit of economic advantage – facilitated by heartless people traffickers – receive priority, stretching the limited capacity of our asylum system and inhibiting support for those in genuine need –including many who, because of their faith, are hounded and hunted overseas.

Simultaneously, Britons – many working tirelessly to provide for those they love in unprecedented economic circumstances – are frustrated at the spiralling costs of the broken system. They question, understandably, whether some of the £1 billion spent on asylum would be better utilised in the elevation and empowerment of our poorest neighbourhoods here at home. Many argue for the creation of a holding facility off mainland Britain, in which illegal economic migrants can be accommodated before deportation, or whilst any claims are considered.

Thankfully, the Home Secretary’s New Plan for Immigration – announced last week – is a powerful statement of intent, setting out a number of steps which will enable us to prioritise those facing genuine horrors, whilst preventing criminal entry to Britain and safeguarding the wellbeing and safety of British citizens.

Particularly welcome are proposals to introduce a ‘one-stop’ process, requiring all rights-based claims to be considered together in a single, upfront assessment, thus preventing financially motivated lawyers from repeatedly gaming the system.

Together with other members of the Common Sense Group, I have written to the Prime Minister urging him to both disregard the inevitable, self-interested criticism of these plans by the privileged liberal establishment and to introduce further, root and branch reforms.

Amongst other sensible initiatives, introducing a strict time limit on the asylum application process, during which the Home Office should securely accommodate and supervise applicants; automatically rejecting claims by those who have travelled through any ‘safe’ country and/or claims which are not logged immediately after arrival in the UK; and renewing a proactive programme of deportations would all help to restore and revive confidence and certainty.

At present there are more than 10,000 foreign criminals in Britain who have no right to be here – they should be deported without question or delay.

Together, we got Brexit done. Now, it is finally time to take back control of our borders and so secure the integrity of our nationhood.

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