UK to deny asylum to illegal migrants arriving by boat

London, Mar 7 (EFE).- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday announced that “illegal” migrants who arrive in the United Kingdom in small boats will not be allowed to request asylum in the country, will be arrested and then will be deported “within weeks.”

“Today, we are introducing legislation to make clear that if you come here illegally you can’t claim asylum, you can’t benefit from our modern slavery protections, you can’t make spurious human rights claims and you can’t stay,” said Sunak at a press conference to present the immigration bill that his government has launched in Parliament.

“People must know that if they come here illegally, it will result in their detention and swift removal,” the British premier added.

“Once this happens, and they know it will happen, they will not come and the boats will stop,” he said.

The legislation, which has raised doubts among opposition members of Parliament about whether it complies with the European Convention on Human Rights, sets forth that illegal migrants who reach the British coast will be detained for 28 days without being able to be released provisionally or have their case reviewed in a timely way by a court, the government said, although certain cases will be reviewed “remotely” after the applicant has been deported.

London, in “exceptional circumstances,” will consider whether a person is at risk of “serious or irreversible harm” if they are deported to a specific country, but even in those cases the maximum period during which their case will be examined before they are expelled from the UK will be 45 days.

The future legislation will be retroactive, said Sunak, meaning that the measures will be applied to migrants who have already arrived in the UK.

Saying that he understood that this move will generate debate about the harshness of the measures, Sunak added that his intention is to offer secure and legal routes for those who need them most.

In that regard, Home Secretary Suella Braverman avoided responding during her latest appearance before the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee regarding what legal paths an asylum petitioner may pursue to be able to be welcomed in the UK from certain countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, for which special programs exist.

She refused to address the law’s “full legal complexities,” but she went on to acknowledge that the “robust and novel” plans may not be in compliance with the Human Rights Act, and in a separate letter to members of Parliament, she wrote: “This does not mean that the provisions in the bill are incompatible with the convention rights, only that there is a more 50 per cent chance that they may not be.”

In 2022, about 13,000 Albanians arrived in the UK by boat, about one-third of the total number of migrants to the country during that period.

Along with the future immigration law, the government also announced an agreement with Albania whereby London recognizes its status as a “safe country,” a status that will facilitate deportations of migrants from British territory.

The people who may be expelled from the UK will also be barred from entering the country for life, “as (they are) in America and Australia,” Sunak said.

The British judiciary last June gave the green light to the controversial plan to send migrants to Rwanda instead of offering them asylum on British soil, although the Appeals Court is scheduled to review that decision next month.

EFE gx/er/bp

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