UK’s new immigration law
17th Mar, 2023
Prime Minister of United Kingdom (UK) set out details of a new law barring the entry of asylum seekers to the UK in small boats to control unauthorized migration.’
Reason behind the Bill
- Increasing migration: The number of people arriving this way has increased in recent years, from the low hundreds before 2020 to 45,755 people in 2022.
- Tragically, more than 130 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Channel since 2019.
- Of those who arrived safely, the vast majority (around 90%) have claimed asylum.
- English Channel, also called The Channel, is a narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean separating the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France and tapering eastward to its junction with the North Sea at the Strait of Dover.
What is in the proposed plan?
- The new bill aims to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats by preventing those that do so from claiming asylum in the UK, detaining and removing them from the country.
- Under the terms of the new agreement, the UK will fund a new migrant detention center in France and an increased French police presence in the English Channel to intercept attempted crossings via boat.
- The bill, if passed, would not only prevent asylum claims, it would shut undocumented immigrants out of the UK’s modern slavery protections.
- The proposed plan to deport to origin or remove asylum seekers arriving in the U.K. by boat to a third country has been sharply criticised by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and by leaders of the European Union.
- They have argued that the new U.K. policy is incompatible with international law, specifically the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Does the bill affect India?
- Indians are the third-largest group of migrants crossing into the UK over the English Channel on risky small boats so far this year, according to the UK Home Office.
Serbia is the only country in Europe that allowed Indians without any entry permits.
- Indians now account for about a fifth of 1,180 migrants who have attempted the perilous crossing this year. Afghans were the most numerous, followed by Syrians.
- The arrangement of permitting Indians to enter Serbia without a visa ended on January 1 as part of Serbia’s efforts to comply with EU visa requirements, resulting in some Indians travelling in small boats into the EU and then to the UK.
- So, definitely the new illegal immigration bill will impact the Indians who were entering to UK from sea routes, without any permits for taking asylum.
India-UK mobility agreement:
- India and UK signed a landmark migration agreement, which aims to benefit both countries from enhanced arrangements on migration issues.
- Migration and mobility partnership: It will include “covering movement of students and professionals as well as irregular migration keeping in view the UK’s new skills based immigration policy”.
- The agreement included a young professionals scheme to allow 3,000 young Indian professionals to come to the UK each year.
- The scheme was confirmed in November 2022 and India and the UK exchanged letters formalising the scheme in January 2023, with an implementation date to be announced.
- Refugee: Refugees are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.
- The refugee definition can be found in the 1951 Convention and regional refugee instruments, as well as UNHCR’s Statute.
- Migrant: An international migrant is someone who changes his or her country of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status.
- Asylum-seeker: An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim.
- Seeking asylum is a human right.
- This means everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.