Patel sets out ‘most significant overhaul of our asylum system in decades’

The Government wants to change the law so it can keep the option of offshore processing for asylum seekers "open", details of its new immigration plan confirm.

Mrs Patel told the BBC: "If people arrive illegally, they will no longer have the same entitlements as those who arrive legally, and it will be harder for them to stay".

She added: "What is inhumane is allowing people to be smuggled through illegal migration because people are being found dead in the back of lorries and drowning in the channel".

But she warned "the challenge of illegal immigration" must be addressed in order to "properly control our borders", describing the plans as a "comprehensive reform of our asylum system" that will make "big changes, building a new system that is fair but firm".

Earlier on Wednesday Ms Patel defended the proposals from accusations that they were "inhumane" as she confirmed the United Kingdom will look at sending migrants overseas for processing.

The British Red Cross said treating claims depending on how people arrived will create an "unfair two-tiered system" for asylum.

The Home Office has argued that "fairness" and a genuine need for refuge are at the heart of the new proposals, which will support those arriving through "safe and legal routes".

"If, like over 60 per cent of illegal arrivals, they have travelled through a safe country like France to get here, they will not have immediate entry into the asylum system-which is what happens today", she added.

More than 8,500 people arrived in Britain a year ago after crossing the English Channel in small boats operated by people traffickers.

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The figure is the highest daily number so far this year, and is just under the total in the whole of March 2020 when 187 people made the crossing.

Tougher laws will be introduced to "withhold protection and remove risky criminals, even when they improperly claim to be victims of modern slavery", the Home Office said.

Interior minister Priti Patel said "The New Plan for Immigration" would be based "on genuine need of refuge, not on the ability to pay people smugglers", but drew fire from refugee groups.

A new "one-stop" legal process is also proposed, so asylum, human rights claims and any other protection matters are all made and considered together ahead of appeal hearings.

The measures "will do next to nothing to stop people making risky crossings and they risk withdrawing support from desperate people", he said.

"Measures are clearly needed to speed up processes and stop criminal gangs profiting from risky crossings", he said.

Ms Patel told MPs 52,000 people are awaiting an initial asylum decision, with three-quarters waiting a year or more as the system has become "overwhelmed" with a backlog of 109,000 asylum claims.

The opposition Labour party's interior spokesman, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said he feared the plans would do "next to nothing to stop people making unsafe crossings, and risk withdrawing support from desperate people, such as victims of human trafficking".

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