UK overhauls asylum system after Brexit

Britain will overhaul its asylum system to make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the country without permission, the British government announced on Tuesday.

The Nationality and Borders Bill, entering Parliament on Tuesday, tackles the challenge of illegal immigration to make it harder to stay for those who enter Britain illegally, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The post-Brexit move came after the government had already ended freedom of movement of the European Union (EU) citizens after Brexit and introduced a points-based immigration system to welcome talents from around the world.

“For too long, our broken asylum system has lined the pockets of the vile criminal gangs who cheat the system. This isn’t fair to the vulnerable people who need protection or the British public who pay for it. It’s time to act,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement.

Patel said that this legislation delivered British people’s hope to take full control of its borders and paved the way for a fair but firm system that will break the business model of the gangs that facilitate dangerous and illegal journeys to Britain while speeding up the removal of those with no right to be there.

Other measures include making every effort to remove those who enter the country illegally having travelled through a safe country in which they could and should have claimed asylum, and making it easier to remove someone from Britain to a safe country while their asylum claim is processed.

Britain planned to increase the punishment for people smugglers who facilitate illegal entry to Britain, who will face up to life imprisonment. The bill also aims to give the home secretary power to control visa availability for countries refusing to take back their own citizens.

Age assessment will also be changed to protect children from being wrongly moved into the adult asylum system and stop illegal entrants falsely claiming to be children.

More than 36,000 people, including dependants, applied for asylum in Britain in 2020. About 10,000 people were offered protection in Britain in the form of refugee status or other protections, according to media reports.