Thank you for contacting me about the Government's plan to tackle illegal immigration.
The Prime Minister has been clear since he took office that he will prioritise the issue of illegal immigration.
In December 2022, the Government announced five new steps to further curb the issue of illegal immigration. This includes a new agreement with Albania so the vast majority of Albanian claimants can be removed, with weekly flights until all Albanians in the backlog are sent home. A new permanent, unified Small Boats Operational Command in the channel, with 700 new staff.
Tougher immigration enforcement is being introduced with 200 new staff and better data sharing with banks. Cheaper accommodation sites will also be used including disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites. The Government has committed to clearing the initial asylum backlog by the end of 2023 through doubling the number of caseworkers and streamlining the process.
The new Illegal Immigration Bill means that someone who enters this country illegally will be swiftly detained and removed back to their home country if it is safe, or to a safe third country such as Rwanda. This will help the break the business model of people-smuggling networks, and ultimately save lives.
Finally, I also welcome that the Government has announced that the UK will be providing France with £500 million in funding over the next three years, to prevent people crossing the Channel illegally. The funding will provide an extra 500 officers who will patrol French beaches and a new detention centre in Northern France. A new command centre will also be established which will bring UK and French enforcement teams together in once place for the first time. These measures will be underpinned by more drones and other surveillance technologies which will help to ramp up the interception rate.
Asylum Claims Backlog
I understand that the Home Office has announced a change to the process by which asylum seekers can apply for refugee status. This means that instead of face-to-face interviews, some cases will be decided via a ten page questionnaire for applications for people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen who applied before July 2022.
This will help to reduce the asylum backlog and help to streamline the process for five nationalities. The usual security and criminal checks will be still be conducted, and biometrics will continue to be taken. All individuals involved in the new process will be checked against criminal databases, and will be subject to security vetting.
I can assure you that by taking these steps, the Government will be tough but fair in tackling illegal migration.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP