Priti Patel’s latest plans to overhaul the UK Immigration Rules include tightening the laws concerning illegal migrants and offenders in an attempt to “protect our borders” and curb abuses of the asylum system by those who do not have a right to be in the UK.
Under the current Immigration Rules, the Home Office can enforce a migrant’s removal in circumstances where they do not hold any valid leave to remain in the UK. On the other hand, deportation orders are generally used to enforce the removal of persons (offenders) whose behaviour is not deemed conducive to the public good and allows the detention of such persons until such time they are removed. Deportation orders also prohibit offenders from re-entering the UK whilst the order is in force and invalidates any leave granted before or during the validity of the order.
Presently, failed asylum applicants (who have exhausted all their appeal rights and are therefore subject to removal) have the opportunity to submit fresh evidence to the Home Office as a “further submission”. This effectively provides asylum applicants a chance to put forward new arguments as to why they should be allowed to stay in the UK whilst preventing their immediate removal. Separately, an increasing number of people in detention who are nearing completion of a custodial sentence have been found to lodge late or spurious claims for asylum (often relying on apparent medical conditions or being a victim of modern slavery) in efforts to delay or frustrate their deportation from the UK. Immigration experts have also pointed out that the Home Office faces delays in enforcing deportation orders when relying on foreign states to issue the necessary papers for foreign migrants who do not have (or have destroyed) their travel documents.
It is understood that the Home Secretary’s ambitious plans would target the “prompt removal” of failed asylum applicants by preventing the pursuit of last-minute appeals and “further submissions” as asylum applicants would be forced to present all their arguments and evidence at the outset of their claim. With regard to foreign offenders, Priti Patel envisages enforcing the “prompt removal” of criminals sentenced to imprisonment of 12 months or more, although she admits this would be a big challenge. Other proposals include automatic prison sentences for deported offenders who return to the UK.
Notwithstanding the UK’s inability (courtesy of the European Convention of Human Rights) to secure the removal of offenders or failed asylum seekers to states where they could be at risk of torture, inhumane treatment or other violence, the proposals may remain “undeliverable due to the legal and logistical obstacles that cannot be easily overcome” said David Wood, a former Director General of immigration enforcement at the Home Office.
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