Migrant crisis: Fury at Sunak's asylum 'amnesty' with thousands of Channel crossers to be granted right to stay
Published: 23/02/2023- 10:20
Thousands of asylum seekers will be granted right to stay in the UK without checks on their claims as Rishi Sunak faces backlash over “amnesty” plan to reduce backlog.
More than 12,000 migrants from five countries with the highest asylum success rates will have their applications processed on paper, with the “vast majority” allowed to stay without an interview.
The plan, dubbed “amnesty in all but name”, is set to help the Prime Minister meet his pledge to clear a backlog of more than 90,000 outstanding asylum claims by the end of this year.
Sunak is planning to reduce the backlog of more than 90,000 asylum claims
Chiefs expect 95 per cent to be given the green light for at least five years, however those who fail to complete the 10-page form “without reasonable explanation” could have their claim withdrawn.
Home Office officials will begin contacting asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Eritrea and Yemen on Thursday to inform them of a 20-day deadline to fill in return fast-track claim forms.
Critics have said the move could encourage more migrants to cross the Channel and even pose a security risk.
“No matter how people want to dress this up, this is an amnesty and will cause an outcry in many constituencies. Rishi will become the poster boy for the smuggling gangs, and encourage yet more to come across the Channel,” one backbench Conservative MP told the Telegraph.
Marco Longhi, the Tory MP for Dudley North said the scheme appeared to be “completely wrong” on the face of it, adding: “I would not support these measures until I see the details and can be convinced otherwise.”
It follows the last mass asylum acceptance scheme in 2006 when the Labour government introduced a Home Office directorate to clear a backlog of nearly 400,000 asylum cases.
The Government is bracing for a backlog of more than 150,000 asylum claims for the first time in 20 years.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said housing asylum seekers in hotels was causing “understandable tensions” after violent protests broke out in Merseyside.
Officials expect 95 per cent of paper applications will be granted the right to live in the UK
She said violence was “never acceptable” but “we are all frustrated with the situation” and it is not “racist or bigoted” to acknowledge the problems caused to communities.
Sunak pledged to clear 92,601 legacy cases – asylum claims submitted by June 2022 - when new asylum rules were introduced through the Nationality and Borders Act.
Alp Mehmet, the chairman of the think tank Migration Watch said: “This is an amnesty in all but name. The message to the criminal gangs is, if you get your clients to destroy their ID and claim to be from a ‘high success’ country, they’ll be tick-boxed into the UK.
“The triple killer of Tom Roberts came from such a country, and had been denied asylum in Norway before our already lax system allowed him to con his way in. The Government’s plan is a dangerous folly. The Home Secretary should think again.”