Suella Braverman is to question whether key international conventions governing the movement of people are “fit for purpose” on a trip to America this week to discuss immigration.
During the visit, the Home Secretary will warn that governments failing to tackle illegal migration “risk losing their democratic legitimacy”.
Ms Braverman will travel to Washington DC tomorrow as part of a three-day visit in which she will hold talks with a range of lawmakers and officials including US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The talks will focus on combating illegal immigration and organised immigration crime, but will also cover topics such as state threats, national security, organised crime and fraud.
The Home Secretary will also use the visit to question the international legal architecture relating to migration.
Ahead of the visit, she said: “Illegal migration and the unprecedented mass movement of people across the globe is placing unsustainable pressures on America, the UK, and Europe.
“We must come together and ask whether the international conventions and legal frameworks designed fifty-plus years ago are fit for purpose in an age of jet travel and smartphones.”
The mention of international conventions is likely to be read as a reference to the UN Refugee Convention, which sets out the responsibilities of countries that grant asylum.
Ms Braverman added: “I’m going to Washington to discuss this crisis with our American counterparts.
“If we fail to meet these challenges, then our political institutions risk losing their democratic legitimacy.”
In the UK, The Sunday Telegraph can separately reveal that councils are gearing up to tell an official consultation that they will struggle to take additional migrants because they are already “full”.
Under the Illegal Migration Act passed by Rishi Sunak in July, the Government has a legal duty to consult local authorities on the maximum number of people who may enter the UK each year via “safe and legal routes” for claiming asylum.
Currently, all local authorities are required to participate in the system for housing asylum seekers. The use of hotels to provide places because of a lack of dedicated asylum accommodation has generated particular controversy.
The consultation is required by law to take place by October 20. The Telegraph understands it will not only enquire about what capacity councils have to take additional migrants, but will also ask them to make “binding commitments” on the subject.
However, sources in both central and local government believe that councils will volunteer very few extra places.
The prospect of the consultation has raised concerns in local government that councils pledging large numbers could be met with a backlash from residents.
One local government source said the Government was engaged in a “buck passing exercise” designed to put councils in a “difficult decision”.
Many councils will claim that they are “full” and “don’t have any housing for local residents, let alone new arrivals”, the source said.
They added that some councils believed they were already at “breaking point”, with the system “in crisis”.
The Local Government Association has raised concerns about councils being asked to pledge numbers “given the potential reputational and cohesion risks”.
The chair, councillor Shaun Davies, told The Telegraph that councils worked “hard to protect and support refugees” and welcomed engagement from the Government on any new safe and legal routes.
“However, we have raised concerns about councils being asked to commit to numbers of arrivals or propose a cap,” he said.
“It might be difficult for councils to predict potential arrival numbers across both asylum and resettlement and therefore their capacity to support new arrivals and the additional housing needed. Their local communities may also have differing views on and capacity to support new resettlement routes.”
He said the consultation would take place at a time when “combined pressures from current asylum and resettlement schemes are already growing on councils”.
“We want to work with government on a new joined-up approach across programmes that takes into account those pressures, grounded in advance notice to councils of any decisions that will impact on their local communities.
“This needs to recognise cumulative pressures on local services, ensure councils are adequately funded and effectively engaged with, and include urgent solutions to pressing housing needs in the short and the long term across all the schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK.”
Home Office proposals for housing asylum seekers are already a common flashpoint in local communities.
Tom Gracey, the leader of Runnymede Borough Council in Surrey - which has recently been asked to house 300 migrants at a redeveloped site in Chertsey - said that any proposals needed to “take into account local needs and the availability of the key services that people who are vulnerable need to have access to”.
In Chertsey, he said there was a “choke point” around primary school places and access to GP services and NHS dentists.
“I’m keen that we do play a role in providing sustainable support to vulnerable people, and that extends to both current residents and asylum seekers,” he said.
But he added: “Whatever model has to be adopted, it has to be proportionate, and the key thing from our side is that it has to be sustainable.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a proud history of providing protection for those who need it and we remain committed to supporting the most vulnerable, including those fleeing persecution. Over 350 local authorities across every region of the UK have welcomed resettled refugees into their communities under our safe and legal routes.
“It is important that we understand the capacity of the UK to support those arriving on our safe and legal routes ensuring that they can be accommodated and integrated effectively.
“That is why we have committed to introduce a cap on the number of people brought to the UK through safe and legal routes each year. The cap will be based on the UK’s capacity and determined through consultation with local authorities.”