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Debunking key myths about Britain’s ‘broken asylum system’

Writer : Nando Sigona, Professor of Worldwide Migration and Compelled Displacement and Director of the Institute for Analysis into Superdiversity, College of Birmingham

In the identical week that noticed a minimum of 27 folks die within the Channel attempting to cross in a small boat, the UK authorities launched its quarterly immigration statistics bulletin.

Political stress has piled up on the UK authorities – and on House Secretary Priti Patel particularly – to take motion. In flip, she has deflected blame onto the allegedly overgenerous “damaged” asylum system for encouraging folks to try the crossing within the first place.

Because the tragedy, the federal government narrative has shifted from the bombastic “cease migrants to defend our border” to the extra humanitarian-inflected “cease migrants (in France) to guard them from drowning”.

The info present that within the yr ending June 2021 (the most recent out there comparable statistics) the UK acquired 31,235 asylum functions – fewer than France and Spain and much behind Germany, which acquired 113,625.

Counter to what one may count on from media reviews, the British “summer time of migration” (echoing an expression utilized in Germany in 2015) was just about consistent with earlier tendencies when it comes to asylum functions.

The Channel tragedy has been utilized by the UK authorities to drum up additional help for altering the foundations on claiming asylum within the UK.

It’s vital to evaluate the truth of this case in order that the federal government can’t exploit reliable humanitarian considerations in regards to the dangers migrants take when crossing the Channel to legitimise additional curbing their proper to declare asylum.

Extra individuals are not being granted asylum

One of many faults of what Priti Patel calls the “damaged asylum system” is its alleged generosity – as interpreted by way of the excessive success charge of asylum functions.

At a primary look, the present success charge within the UK (64%) is greater than in international locations like Germany (39%) and France (23%). Nevertheless, this can be the results of variations in how international locations managed the COVID disruption. Within the case of the UK, a minority of comparatively easy instances have been determined rapidly through the pandemic. And since they have been easy instances, they have been more likely to end in asylum being granted. The consequence is a hit charge over the previous yr that’s considerably greater than in earlier years. The flipside to that is that many instances have been left undecided and an awesome backlog has gathered.

Priti Patel standing at the dispatch box in the House of Commons.
Priti Patel speaks in parliament following the tragedy within the Channel.
EPA/UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The fact on the bottom is that there’s a very massive pending caseload. 1000’s of individuals are residing in protracted uncertainty. They’re surviving on restricted state subsidies with no proper to work – which is particularly hanging given the dearth of low expert employees in a number of areas of the labour market and battle with recruiting.

Folks will proceed to attempt to attain the UK

One other vital truth popping out of the federal government’s asylum figures is that the highest 5 international locations of origin of asylum candidates within the UK are totally different from the EU’s important vacation spot international locations (Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece). Regardless of what we hear typically in media and political commentaries within the UK, not each asylum seeker is heading to the UK. However some will proceed to strive to take action.

Within the EU, most individuals claiming asylum come from Syria and Afghanistan. Within the UK, the principle international locations of origin are Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Sudan and Iraq. This distinction is usually as a result of function performed by household, historic and geopolitical connections in shaping choices about the place to maneuver to and settle.

What this implies is that the individuals are trying to cross as a result of they’ve robust motivations to come back to the UK, whereas different asylum seekers in Europe don’t. Extra boots on the bottom and boats within the sea could possibly stem a move by way of a selected route quickly however they do little to fight the underpinning drivers. A extra probably final result is that new, dearer and harmful, routes will emerge to fulfill demand.

That is ‘worse than 2015’

In presenting the most recent figures, the federal government chooses to spotlight that the speed of asylum functions is “greater than on the peak of the European migration disaster in 2015-16”. These selection phrases are deceptive as a result of the migration disaster unfolded largely on mainland Europe relatively than the UK. When folks hear “worse than 2015”, it contributes to the general narrative of the UK being “invaded” by unauthorised migrants. The fact is that there was solely a small improve to an already comparatively small determine.

Asylum functions within the EU (together with the UK), 2005-2015. Knowledge: Eurostat.

Extra secure routes

New measures deliberate as a part of the nationality and borders invoice making its method by way of parliament will make it even more durable to say asylum within the UK. These modifications are being introduced in underneath the guise of curbing folks smugglers and shutting unsafe routes to the UK.

The federal government has already mentioned it desires to penalise folks for trying to achieve the UK by boat, describing these journeys as “unmeritorious”. This clearly alerts that candidates coming into the UK will not be thought-about deserving of asylum – even earlier than they make a declare.

Future help will likely be channelled into particular refugee resettlement schemes, that are offered as “secure routes” into the UK. However these provide assist to extraordinarily restricted numbers of people that meet the federal government’s particular necessities.

A pie chart showing that asylum applications make up a tiny proportion of arrivals to the UK, with most coming via visas.
How many individuals arrived within the UK in 2021 and the way they arrived.
MIGZEN, Writer offered

The federal government is presenting these small scale schemes as a viable different to having a good and dealing asylum system within the UK. That is removed from true and we must be cautious of the resettlement of a small variety of refugees getting used to justify a draconian method to the fitting to say asylum of the various.


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