Home Office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat Channel crisis – report

The Government is reportedly reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries in an effort to tackle the Channel migrant crisis.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is looking at resurrecting a list of countries deemed by the Home Office to be safe, according to The Times.

(PA Graphics)

More than 42,600 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year and Channel crossings continued on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defence said 426 migrants made the journey on Monday in seven boats – an average of about 61 people per boat. The overall average for 2022 is around 40, according to officials.

Asylum claims of citizens from those countries would largely be regarded as unfounded, unless they are able to provide contrasting evidence. There would be no right to appeal for rejected claimants, the newspaper said.

The plans would emulate a New Labour policy from the early 2000s, in which asylum claimants from so-called “white-list” countries would have their applications dealt with in less than 10 days.

Migrants arriving in small boats from one of the countries deemed safe would reportedly be detained at the Manston processing site in Kent, or at other reception centres, as their asylum claims are expedited.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We’ve been clear that we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration, including returning those with no right to be in the UK to their home country.

“We return people who come to the UK illegally through a mixture of formal and information returns agreements with a number of countries, and we are always looking at ways to speed up removals and improve our returns processes with other countries.”

The Times reports the list would include Albania. Albanians accounted for just over a third of people detected crossing the English Channel in small boats in the first nine months of the year.

They also made up nearly half of those detected in July to September.

Commons Home Affairs Committee
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (House of Commons/PA)

The figures, which have been published by the Home Office, show there were 33,029 small boat arrivals in the UK from January to September this year.

Of this total, 11,241 (35%) were Albanian nationals.

Almost all of these have arrived since May.

The Home Office added: “We value our Albanian community in the UK, and continue to welcome Albanians who travel to the UK legally and contribute to British society.

“However, this year we are seeing large numbers of Albanians risking their lives and making dangerous and unnecessary journeys to the UK through illegal means, and this is placing further strain on our asylum system.

“With co-operation from the Government of Albania, we are taking every opportunity to intercept the work of organised criminal gangs and people smugglers, and speeding up the removal of Albanians with no right to be in the UK.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, described the plan as “yet more unworkable posturing that won’t stop people taking dangerous journeys to reach the UK” and said efforts should instead be focused “rapidly” on “the backlog of asylum claims” and creating more safe and legal routes.

He added: “Official data shows that the majority of men, women and children seeking asylum are fleeing war, persecution and violence – while the Home Office’s own analysis underlines that the creation of a hostile environment simply doesn’t work.

“Governments have been trying proposals like this for decades and they have been found to be unlawful.

“Our country has a long-standing reputation for embracing and supporting those escaping persecution and it’s time this government recognised that, instead of rehashing the failed policies of the past.”