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Business News/ News / India/  Rishi Sunak govt moves to curb migration: ‘If you come illegally, you will be…’

Rishi Sunak govt moves to curb migration: ‘If you come illegally, you will be…’

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick announced that the government plans to utilize barges and unused army bases as accommodation for asylum seekers.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP) (AP)Premium
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP) (AP)

Rishi Sunak will defend the government's actions in controlling migration this week, stating that the UK government is facing challenges in managing the influx of arrivals.

As reported by Bloomberg, the prime minister is scheduled to attend an event in Kent, Southern England, on Monday to highlight the achievements made in the past six months. These include a 50% rise in raids targeting illegal workers and the recruitment of 700 additional staff to monitor individuals crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick announced that the government plans to utilize barges and unused army bases as accommodation for asylum seekers. The government also intends to inform young men that they will be required to share one room with three other people.

These measures aim to make Britain a less appealing destination for migrants. Ministers are alarmed by the fact that despite a pledge to reduce immigration, a record number of 606,000 more people migrated to Britain than departed last year.

“We also can’t allow the UK to be perceived to be a soft touch," Jenrick said on BBC television’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg show. “It’s placing serious pressure on public services and our ability to successfully integrate people into the country."

The influx of migrants arriving in small boats and reaching record levels has made immigration a contentious issue within the right wing of the ruling Conservative Party. Rishi Sunak has stepped back from a previous commitment outlined in the party's manifesto to reduce migration.

However, government ministers are currently developing plans to deport around 3,000 individuals each month who are considered to have entered the UK through means that are deemed illegal. Although the majority of immigrants arrive legally with visas, the government's primary focus is on addressing informal routes of entry, particularly relating to asylum seekers.

The Labour opposition has pledged to reduce immigration levels and places the blame on the Conservatives for the perceived lack of control over the numbers. This issue has further strained the relationship with business lobby groups, who advocate for loosening immigration rules to enable the entry of workers needed to fill job vacancies and alleviate wage pressures.

“We want businesses to be in the first instance investing in British workers and technology and automation that drives productivity, not just reaching for the easy lever of foreign labor," Jenrick told the BBC.

Sunak’s office said on Sunday that the prime minister will say the current measures are working but “there is more to be done." The government already has signed deals with France and Albania aimed at limiting flows and passed in legislation in the House of Commons that ensures that “if you come here illegally, you will be detained and swiftly removed," Downing Street said in a statement released Sunday.

Jenrick said the asylum system needs “fundamental" reform because it’s “riddled with abuse," notably the government paying too much money to hotel operators for housing people.

The Illegal Migration Bill, due before the House of Lords on Wednesday, will let officials detain migrants who arrive through informal channels. The government wants to return many of them home — or to Rwanda.

“That will create the deterrent we desperately need," Jenrick said. “It will break the business model of the people smuggling gangs, and it will stop the system from coming under intolerable pressure like it is today."

On Wednesday, the House of Commons is expected to pass a bill that will establish the criteria and timeline for determining when immigrants are deemed settled in the UK for the purpose of acquiring citizenship.

Jenrick said, “It’s reasonable to ask asylum seekers to share rooms, brushing aside concerns of a group that refused to enter a hotel in Pimlico, where the Home Office had asked them to sleep four people per room."

The leader of Westminster City Council expressed deep concern that some 40 refugees were placed in the borough last week “without appropriate accommodation or support available," the Press Association reported.

“We had offered them a safe bed with board and lodgings in a good-quality hotel in central London," Jenrick said on the BBC, adding, “Yes, some of them had to share with other people. These are single adult males, I don’t think that’s unreasonable."

He further noted that the government wants to reduce the cost to taxpayers of housing asylum seekers, saying that putting them in hotels drains valuable assets for the local business community.

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Updated: 05 Jun 2023, 08:19 AM IST
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