UK sets 2-week asylum claim goal as Channel crossings surge

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Two-thirds of all applications are granted at first review and half of all appeals are successful, it said…reports Asian Lite News

Home Secretary Priti Patel is aiming to draft new laws to reject the asylum claims of Channel migrants within two weeks of their arrival in Britain.

The plan aims to deal with government concerns that asylum seekers have become immune to detainment and deportation policies due to international laws, The Times reported on Saturday.

Patel has ordered Home Office officials to develop powers to expedite asylum claims, with a new goal of two weeks per application.

The UK is facing its biggest backlog of asylum claims for almost two decades, with more than 90,000 people now waiting to hear the results of their asylum applications. Each asylum claim takes an average 12 months to process.

One strategy the Home Office is considering implementing is a rejection protocol if asylum seekers are found to have reached Britain through “safe countries.”

But Patel has been warned that the two-week asylum claim strategy will prove difficult as a result of some migrants fleeing conflict or persecution in their home countries.

However, she said a fortnight is a “reasonable” window for immigration officials, according to Home Office sources.

The new strategy is part of a wider government target to slow Channel crossings, which reached a record 28,381 last year. That number is set to double this year, according to government statistics.

Meanwhile, Patel has incorrectly told MPs that most migrants crossing the English Channel are not asylum-seekers after a Home Office report claimed that “almost all” of them are.

In a Home Affairs Committee session on Wednesday, Patel responded to questions on the government’s plans for tackling the Channel crisis through the provision of alternative safe routes.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton said the number of migrants reaching Britain on small boats tripled last year to more than 28,000 and asked the home secretary about the alternative routes available to them.

“We have people coming from Syria and Afghanistan, we do have the work of the Afghanistan resettlement scheme — that is a safe and legal route that has been stood up,” Patel said.

But when challenged on the routes available to asylum-seekers from countries other than Syria and Afghanistan, she said: “For economic migrants, they don’t need safe and legal routes because they should be claiming asylum in many of the other countries they’re travelling through.”

Patel added: “The majority of them are people that are not claiming asylum or fleeing persecution.”

But her department’s most recent report on migrant statistics, which was released in November, said “almost all” people who arrive via the Channel on small boats claim asylum.

Two-thirds of all applications are granted at first review and half of all appeals are successful, it said.

Patel told the Commons committee that migrants crossing the Channel “should be claiming asylum in other countries,” despite this not being a requirement for any asylum-seeker under UN regulations.

She said new safe and legal routes were being created for asylum-seekers beyond Afghanistan and Syria, but did not provide any details. She added: “We don’t currently have those routes in place.”

British law requires anyone claiming asylum in Britain to be physically present in the country, limiting options for people stuck in countries they are attempting to flee and, campaigners say, forcing them to take perilous routes.

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