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P
Pa
September 17, 2020

Unsustainable for UK to be backstop for endless asylum claims, says Patel

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P
Pa
September 17, 2020

LONDON: It is “unsustainable” for the UK to become the “backstop for endless asylum claims” as a result of a “broken” international system, the Home Secretary has argued.

Priti Patel suggested that the situation in Europe was “helping to facilitate people trafficking and smuggling across the continent”, and said “legislative changes” were needed in the UK to create new legal resettlement routes.

The Home Secretary’s comments came in response to questions over the government’s approach to refugees and asylum seekers while taking part in a live online seminar organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Tuesday evening.

During her appearance, Patel was also challenged over the government’s previous reference to “activist lawyers” representing migrants facing deportation, which triggered criticism last month. When asked if the “inflammatory language” was appropriate, the home secretary emphasised that removals targeted “foreign national offenders” and “violent criminals”. She added: “I appreciate that lawyers may be doing their jobs, but at the same time they are actively campaigning to frustrate the deportation of many of these individuals. And many of these individuals, I should say, do have criminal backgrounds, they have caused great harm, they have hurt victims.”

Responding to questions about refugee policy, Patel said the UK had a “proud history of granting protection to those who need it”. She highlighted that the government had provide more than 19,000 resettlement places to people affected by the conflict in Syria since 2015.

Patel said it was also targeting its resources at people trafficking which had become “a lucrative business model for criminals and crooks”. Her comments come amid political debate over the thousands of migrants who have crossed the Channel to the UK by small boats in 2020.

Patel said the “dreadful, dreadful trade of people trafficking” was facilitated by organised criminal gangs across Europe. She added: “We’re finding that individuals have come to us via other EU countries and many of them also sought to claim asylum in other countries.”

Patel claimed EU countries had all “signed up” to “ensuring that where people went to the first safe country, they would claim asylum and seek refuge there”. She continued: “I’m afraid that system has broken down and… many of our counterparts are not supporting that and actually that is helping to facilitate people trafficking and smuggling across the continent and that is deeply unhelpful.”

The Home Secretary said “work is afoot” within government to create new “legal routes” through resettlement schemes. The Home Office has previously criticised the Dublin Regulation, which covers the EU, and aims to prevent multiple asylum applications, known as “asylum-shopping”, by making one country responsible for an asylum application.

Patel said: “Currently, our asylum system… it’s literally become subject to asylum shopping for people who want to come to the UK but they will literally go to other EU member states to get here first”. She added: “It’s unsustainable for the United Kingdom just to be the backstop for endless asylum claims. Our asylum system right now houses over 56,000 people and that is growing by the day through small boats.”