• Thu. May 30th, 2024

The Illegal Migration Bill, explained

ByLucy Frewin

Mar 30, 2023
Home Secretary Suella Braverman speaking behind a lectern.

Last week, the UK Government announced its controversial Illegal Immigration Bill that seeks to overhaul the UK asylum system.

Since its announcement, the Bill has been the subject of widespread criticism, with concerns raised about its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Bill targets asylum seekers arriving via ‘irregular routes’ such as small boats and those that have passed through safe countries en route to the UK.

Under the legislation, those who have arrived by ‘illegal means’ will have their asylum claims automatically deemed inadmissible.

It will see asylum seekers and their families detained for 28 days before removal to their home country or an alternative ‘safe’ country.

As a further deterrent, no asylum seeker deemed to be entering unlawfully will ever, in future, be granted asylum in the UK.

The legislation comes as part of the Government’s pledge to ‘stop the boats’, listed as one of their key priorities in January 2023.

Concerns have, however, been raised about the Bill’s compatibility with international law.

The legislation does not protect potential victims of slavery or human trafficking.

Furthermore, any legal challenges to removal, including those on human rights grounds, will only be considered after a person’s removal from the UK.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, when asked about the ECHR, could not confirm if the Bill’s provisions were compatible.

The UN Refugee Agency has also expressed concern that the Bill would constitute a clear breach of the Refugee Convention.

It stated that ‘the legislation would amount to an asylum ban for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be.’

The Children’s Commissioner for England also expressed her ‘deep concern’ for how the Bill would apply to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Clarifying the Bill’s application to unaccompanied children, Braverman stated that the Bill would not involve the removal of unaccompanied children.

The Home Secretary reserves the power, however, to remove the child as soon as they turn 18.

Criticism has come from across the political spectrum and wider society, with figures such as former Prime Minister Theresa May speaking out against the Bill.

Here in Edinburgh, the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) society also expressed their concern.

In a statement to The Student, STAR declared its stance against the Illegal Immigration Bill.

They expressed that ‘seeking asylum is a human right and the UK has an obligation under the UN Refugee Convention to provide people a fair hearing regardless of how they arrive’.

Having defeated Labour’s amendment to block the Bill in the Commons last week, the Bill will now progress to the committee stage before review by the House of Lords.

Image: Committee quizzes Suella Braverman 2022 (D)” by ukhouseoflords is licensed under CC BY 2.0.