There have just five removals in 2021 of illegal cross-Channel migrants to safe European countries.
The news was revealed by a government minister under questioning by a Parliamentary Committee in November 2021.
In the Summer of 2019, the-then new Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned illegal Channel immigrants not to come otherwise ‘we will send you back‘ (see from 1 minute 20 seconds to 1 minute 46 seconds below).
The news comes as new official statistics (here and here) showed that total removals and departures of failed asylum claimants whether to EU countries or to safe non-EU places of origin – so-called asylum-related returns (see definition at * below) – have plummeted in the past decade. In the year ending March 2021, this fell further – with only 1,019 asylum related returns, 66% fewer than the previous year (see Home Office bulletin, paragraph 2.2). Ten times this number were removed just a decade previously.
Boris Johnson’s record on immigration enforcement is much worse than even Tony Blair’s.
The below graph is based upon statistics released by the Home Office. The only missing number is for 2019 for which we have taken the mid-point of 2018 and 2020.
As for the reason, the official approach to asylum has become much more lax over the past decade, especially since 2017/18 – this includes the attitudes of judges who may be hearing submissions by failed asylum claimants, including people who have committed crimes in the UK, as to why they should not be removed.
The government’s deliberate decision not to detain as many people who have no right to be here – admitted by a Minister this week – also means it is much less easy to keep track of failed asylum claimants who should be removed.
We have tens of thousands of absconders including many failed asylum claimants.
Less and less resources are also being devoted to enforcement purposes and staff have been cut back.
All these factors contribute to a situation which sadly encourages deadly trips across the Channel and seriously undermines the integrity of border control – putting public safety at risk because we can have no real idea of who is coming in.
An additional factor identified recently by the Home Office: ““The longer-term fall in returns is due to a number of factors. As reported in the publication ‘issues raised by people facing return in immigration detention’, nearly three-quarters of people detained within the UK following immigration offences in 2019 raised one or more ‘issue’ likely to preventing return (such as an asylum claim, legal challenge, or referral as a potential victim of modern slavery), up from 63% in 2017. These issues are likely to affect non-EU nationals to a greater extent than EU nationals. The majority of enforced returns occur from detention.”
The government says that its plan to ‘fix the broken asylum system’ will make it easier to remove those with no legal right to be in the UK, including rejected asylum claimants. Although it is clearly a step in the right direction, we remain to be convinced that the planned legislation will have any real effect.
Home Office data show that none of the 1,503 migrants who reached the UK, largely in small boats or lorries across the Channel, have been returned to safe countries despite all their asylum claims being judged “inadmissible”.
The Home Office strengthened post-Brexit rules from January 1 so that, once a claim was rejected, people could be returned to any safe European country where it could be shown they had passed through and should have claimed asylum.
The new rules were designed to replace the Dublin Agreement, which operated when the UK was part of the EU and under which European countries agreed to take back migrants from the UK if there was evidence they had or should have claimed asylum during their journeys.
However, no countries have yet agreed successor deals to take back migrants, who are now crossing the Channel in record and rising numbers. It leaves the UK with a serious conundrum, with a growing population of Channel migrants whom it is struggling to return to safe nations.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph: “The absence of returns of those who have come here illegally from safe countries since the start of the year underlines the Government’s failure to regain the control of our borders that they promised. Dover has become the gateway to the UK for illegal entrants.”
- According to the Home Office, ‘Asylum-related returns relate to cases where there has been an asylum claim at some stage prior to the return. This will include asylum seekers whose asylum claims have been refused and who have exhausted any rights of appeal, those returned under third-country provisions, as well as those granted asylum/protection but removed for other reasons (such as criminality)’.