Sunak will prohibit immigrants who arrive in the United Kingdom through the English Channel from applying for asylum | International

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Rishi Sunak is determined to build a charisma based on concrete results and kept promises. He first insisted on getting the economy right, then on redressing the great stumbling block of Brexit in Northern Ireland. Now it's time to control irregular immigration.

The Prime Minister and his head of the Interior, Suella Braverman, will announce this Tuesday tougher measures for those who try to set foot in the United Kingdom irregularly ("illegal", the British Government insists on calling it, despite the recommendations of the United Nations United).

All people who arrive on the coast of England aboard the boats that clandestinely cross the English Channel will see their asylum applications rejected as inadmissible. And unlike current legislation, which imposed a re-entry ban of between five and ten years on those who were expelled from the country for trying to enter the country illegally, the Sunak government wants the ban to be for life. The new Illegal Immigration Law will impose on whoever holds the position of Interior Minister the obligation to deport all irregulars to third countries, "as soon as feasible", according to leaks and previews of the text that Downing Street has provided to different British media throughout the weekend.

“Illegal immigration is not fair to the British taxpayer, any more than it is to those who come to the country legally. And it is not right that we allow criminal gangs to continue practicing this type of immoral trade. [viajes clandestinos para inmigrantes]. I am determined to keep my promise to stop the flow of small boats. Make no mistake: if they enter here illegally, they won't be able to stay," Sunak told the conservative tabloid newspaper. Mail on Sunday this Sunday.

Much more than Brexit, or even the cost of living crisis, irregular immigration has become the touchstone that can make or break the electoral expectations of the Conservative Party in the next general election, scheduled for the end of 2024. the electorate tory it is incapable of absorbing a reality that the European continent has been facing for years, but which is relatively recent in the United Kingdom. In January 2023, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior itself, a total of 1,180 immigrants arrived on British shores, after crossing the English Channel. A few less than in January of the previous year (1,330). The trend of recent years, however, reflects an exponential increase that has set off alarm bells. Last year almost 46,000 immigrants crossed the channel; in 2021, there were 28,500; in 2020, 8,466; in 2019, 1,843; in 2018, the first year the government began counting intercepted immigrants, 299.

Last December, Sunak anticipated in Parliament part of the measures he wanted to promote to curb the problem. During Boris Johnson's tenure - not so much in the brief interlude of Liz Truss, his direct successor -, the tension derived from Brexit complicated the understanding between London and Paris. The British Conservative Government reproached the French Executive for not doing enough to prevent clandestine boats from going out to sea from its coasts. And it also claimed, without success, to be able to repatriate to France irregular immigrants who had arrived on British shores from that country.

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In mid-November, with Sunak already as prime minister, London and Paris closed a new agreement by which British agents will be able to be present, for the first time, both in the control room of the operations launched from French territory and in the patrols that are deployed on the coastal terrain. It was a request from Downing Street that, until then, the government of Emmanuel Macron had not considered due to the legal and technical difficulties involved, and the way in which it questioned the territorial sovereignty of the French.

Sunak and his Interior Minister, Braverman, will travel to France this Friday to meet again with Macron and his team. Downing Street is hoping to take advantage of the good climate created after London and Brussels finally reached an agreement last week to end the most poisonous dispute that has faced them in the last two years: the Northern Ireland lace in the it was post-Brexit. “We have reached a fantastic agreement with the so-called Windsor Framework Agreement [el nombre adoptado para los cambios en el Protocolo de Irlanda]and we trust that this matter [la inmigración irregular] approached in the same spirit. I am confident that we will also be successful”, said George Freeman, the Secretary of State for Science, but above all the member of the Government in charge of doing the morning rounds this Monday through the different media to convey the official spirit at the news.

Criticism from humanitarian organizations

The constant trickle of information and promises of greater toughness on irregular immigration keep the main humanitarian organizations in the United Kingdom on alert, which have alerted Downing Street that its plans are “impracticable”, “very expensive” and absolutely “unfeasible”. contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees”.

“Most of the men, women and children who cross the canal do so because they are desperate to flee war, conflict and persecution,” said Enver Solomon, the executive director of UK Refugee Council, the most active humanitarian organization in the UK defending the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers. "The government's failed legislation is not going to stop the arrival of boats, and it will mean that tens of thousands of people end up being held in high-cost centers, in permanent limbo and treated as criminals for the mere fact of seeking refuge," he said. denounced Solomon.

The leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, has expressed his suspicions of electoralism in the umpteenth announcement of a plan, just before local elections in May, which will be the first test of the popularity of the current Conservative government. “We already had another plan last year that was going to end criminal organizations. [que trafican con los inmigrantes]. She did not do it. Now they announce a new and very similar law. Honestly, I don't think we'll get very far with proposals that are unrealizable," Starmer told LBC radio.

Sunak is determined to continue with the deportations to Rwanda, after last December the High Court of England and Wales held that the agreement reached at the time with the authorities of that African country was legal. The first chartered plane to implement the controversial solution was stopped on the ground last June by the European Court of Human Rights. The main humanitarian organizations, the Anglican Church and even the then Prince of Wales, Charles of England, described the policy as inhumane and unfair.

In the absence of knowing the specific details of the new law, the British government has suggested that it will also toughen the asylum application process, to make it more difficult to obtain. Sunak has promised to halve the current backlog of applications stuck in the UK administration. Specifically, he wants to reach the end of 2023 with 92,000 of the 166,000 pending requests already resolved.

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