LONDON: Britain could block visas from countries that refuse to take back failed asylum seekers and criminals, under new plans laid out by the home secretary.
Priti Patel announced the plans as part of a “range of levers” that the government is considering in order to crack down on illegal immigration into the UK.
She said changes are needed in order to fix a system that is “collapsing under the pressure of illegal routes.”
The laws would imitate measures used by the US that withdraw visa routes from countries that refuse to take back illegal immigrants.
It would target countries that fail to cooperate by refusing to issue travel documents, such as replacement passports, or by blocking charter flights from landing.
Iran, Iraq and Sudan are understood to be among the countries currently most reluctant to cooperate with the UK on deportations.
The Times reported that more than 10,000 criminals are due for deportation but are free to roam the streets, while about 42,000 failed asylum seekers are still living in Britain.
Patel’s proposals also suggest making inadmissible claims from people who arrive into the country illegally — a measure targeted at the rising number of asylum seekers and migrants making the treacherous English Channel crossing from France to the UK.
Other measures aimed at stopping migrants from crossing the English Channel include the border force seizing small boats used for crossings, which Patel said would be donated to charity.
She also floated the idea of withdrawing benefits from failed asylum seekers who refuse to cooperate with the government, but said help would continue for anyone at risk of becoming destitute.
Campaigners and rights groups have criticized the plans as inhumane. Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice, said the plans would treat people fleeing persecution “like commodities.”
Mike Adamson, CEO of the British Red Cross, said: “The proposals create a two-tiered system, whereby someone’s case and the support they receive is judged on how they entered the country and not on their need for protection.”