The Conservative government has stepped up its anti-immigration policies after easing Covid-19 restrictions and has begun deporting thousands of illegal immigrants. Deportation of Sri Lankan Scientist. The government and the Home Office, headed by Priti Patel, intend to impose severe restrictions on asylum seekers and refugees. According to the Guardian, Patel said in a statement. “…I will continue to take the difficult action needed to fix our broken asylum system and deliver on what the British people want – full control of our borders.”
Deportation of Sri Lankan Scientist
According to a report by the Guardian on Monday 18 October 2021, a scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family back to Sri Lanka, where he experienced torture, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the Home Office. After his scholarship expired in February 2020, neither he nor his wife were allowed to continue working.
The UK government has proposed substantial immigration reforms to be rolled-out after Brexit. Over the past decade, since the Conservative-led coalition government came to power in 2010, new rules and legislation on immigration have been designed to meet a broad set of policy goals related to both immigration and the UK economy. These can be summarised as follows:
- Reducing annual net migration to the UK from hundreds of thousands to “tens of thousands”
- Instigating a “Hostile environment” to identify and remove illegal migrants and discourage illegal immigration
- Meeting the needs of UK businesses to compete internationally by attracting “The brightest and the best” workers from overseas
These were complex goals to plan for and navigate, and each posed a serious challenge to the Home Office. The “Hostile environment” policy inadvertently resulted in thousands of British citizens being wrongly detained, denied housing and medical care, and deported (Fragomen, 2020).
Restrictions on Asylum
According to the Guardian, in a proposed legislation published on Tuesday, Priti Patel and future home secretaries would have the power to suspend or delay the processing of applications from countries that do not “Cooperate with the UK government in relation to the removal from the United Kingdom of nationals of that country who require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but do not have it.” The bill includes measures such as:
- Asylum seekers deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive in the country via legal routes. Even if their claim is successful, they will be granted temporary refugee status and face the prospect of being indefinitely liable for removal.
- Asylum seekers can be removed from the UK while their asylum claim or appeal is pending, which opens the door to offshore asylum processing.
- For those deemed to have arrived illegally, access to benefits and family reunion rights could be limited.
- The appeals and judicial process will be changed to speed up the removal of those whose claims are refused.
- The home secretary will be able to offer protection to vulnerable people in “Immediate danger and at risk in their home country” in exceptional circumstances. It is thought this will be used to help a small number of people.
- The system will be made “Much harder for people to be granted refugee status based on unsubstantiated claims” and will include “Rigorous age assessments” to stop adults pretending to be children. The government is considering the use of bone scanners to determine age.
- Life sentences will be brought in as a maximum penalty for people-smugglers.
- Foreign criminals who breach deportation orders and return to the UK could be jailed for up to five years instead of the current six months.
- A new one-stop legal process is proposed so that asylum, human rights claims and any other protection matters are made and considered together before appeal hearings.
Furthermore, as stated in the Guardian on 15 Oct 2021, Priti Patel is threatening to use X-rays to verify the asylum seekers’ age. The Home Office claims most asylum seekers who say they are children are adults.
Deportation of Asylum Seekers
The Guardian maintains to have accessed the contents of a document in which a British Home Office official wrote in a letter to city councillors that the immigration case was being considered with a view to cutting government support for asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected. The identified individuals were said to have only 21 days to evacuate the residence provided by the government and then leave the country. The letter states that it will provide the city councils with the details of cases where people are under investigation by the Home Office.
A Home Office spokesman, meanwhile, said the government had used taxpayers’ money over the past year to resettle asylum seekers whose asylum applications had been rejected during the coronavirus pandemic. However, with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, those asylum seekers whose cases have been rejected must return to their homeland.
Charities and human rights campaigners, meanwhile, have condemned the government’s decision as inhumane. They warned that the move would increase the number of homeless people in the city and lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.
According to the Guardian, about 60,000 immigrants whose asylum application has been rejected have been resettled by the British Home Office. Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the British Refugee Council, states that this is deeply concerning news for people who are vulnerable and at risk of homelessness. We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is not over yet and people are still denied access to humanitarian services. Human rights campaigners liken the British Home Secretary’s immigration restrictions to those of the former US president and warn of a repeat of Donald Trump’s fate.