Priti Patel, 49, has unveiled an alteration to the Nationalities and Borders Bill which allows the Home Office to consider a newly arrived migrant’s asylum claim for longer than the six-month limit it was previously constrained to. The update to the Bill comes after 27 migrants died when their small boat collapsed as they attempted to make the perilous journey across the Channel to the UK, in the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since records began in 2014, according to the International Organization for Migrations.
A Government source said: “The amendment means the six months is not explicitly specified in law which means it gives the Government greater flexibility to change the six months.
“We are not tying our hands behind our back by putting six months into law.”
Refugee groups claimed it would leave migrants in a “perpetual state of limbo”.
However, immigration campaigners have claimed the extended period of time was a necessary decision due to the difficulty of returning migrants to “safe” third countries.
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Alp Mehmet, Chair of Migration Watch UK, said: “The absence of returns of those who have come here illegally from safe countries since the start of the year – not that there were many before – underlines the Government’s failure to regain the control of our borders that they promised.
“Dover has become the gateway to the UK for illegal entrants.
“On immigration control, the public were clearly sold a pup.”
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “The Government is intent on leaving people living in a state of perpetual limbo in a no man’s land where their right to apply for refugee protection in the UK is cruelly taken away from them.
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“Most of the men, women and children crossing the channel, including those who have escaped the Taliban, are fleeing persecution and oppression.
“For generations, Prime Ministers since Churchill have given people like them the right to a fair hearing on UK soil regardless of how they reach our shores.”
At least 26,611 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK by boat this year up to November 25, which totals more than three times the entire figure for the whole of 2020.
Asylum applications to Britain are at their highest since 2004, according to official estimates.
However, other countries in Europe are also witnessing a high amount of asylum claims.
Last year, Germany had the highest number of asylum applicants in the EU with 122,015 applicants, while France had 93,475 applicants.