Thursday, December 8

Priti Patel urged justification of claim that most boat migrants are not actual refugees | Priti Patel

Priti Patel has asked to withdraw or substantiate claims it made to parliament that most people traveling to the UK in small boats are not genuine asylum seekers.

Two Labor colleagues, David Blunkett and Shami Chakrabarti, have also questioned whether the Home Secretary has evidence to support his claim that “70% of people on small boats are single men who are effectively economic migrants.”

There is growing concern on the part of refugee charities that the government is feeding a false narrative claiming that migrants traveling to the UK by boat do not deserve sympathy.

At Lords’ home affairs and justice committee last week, Patel was questioned about her new policy of considering anyone who comes to the UK for asylum after passing through a “safe” country as “inadmissible”, making it which means that your request will not be considered. .

Describing the people who would fall into this category, he said: “In the last year, 70% of the people in small boats are single men who are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers. “

Interior Ministry officials were asked to provide data to support the Interior Secretary’s claims.

The Home Office has refused to give an official response to a request from The Guardian. A source responded by saying that of 8,500 people who arrived by small boat in 2020, 87% were male and 74% were between the ages of 18 and 39, but did not provide evidence related to their asylum claims.

Lady Chakrabarti, a former Liberty director and committee member, said Patel’s comments should be properly explained, corrected or withdrawn.

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“Both the refugee convention and the lives of desperate people are too precious for the Interior Secretary’s 70% statement to go unanswered,” he said.

“Does the Home Office really say that the majority of single male asylum seekers or the majority of people crossing the English Channel are ‘economic migrants’ and unworthy of refuge? If so, what happened to giving anxious scrutiny to each individual asylum application? “

Lord Blunkett, the former Labor Home Secretary who asked Patel the question that prompted the “70%” response, said the government might have a hard time justifying the figure because officials were still processing a backlog of asylum claims.

“It is not surprising that the Ministry of the Interior has not responded [to the Guardian’s request to justify the 70% claim] since the backlog of cases is so extreme. The last figure I saw was 125,000, which is more than many years before.

“There is a presumption on the part of the Secretary of the Interior about their claims before they have had a chance to make their claims. Until the backlog of orders is greatly reduced, we will not know about the arrivals that are coming during the summer, ”he said.

On oral evidence To the home affairs selection committee in September 2020, Abi Tierney, UK Director General for Visas and Immigration, stated that of the 5,000 people who had crossed over in 2020 as of the committee meeting date, 98% had applied for asylum.

Home office posted data It shows that many of those arriving in small boats whose claims were deemed inadmissible come from conflict zones such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.

Dr Peter Walsh, a researcher at the University of Oxford Migration Observatory, said: “Most asylum applications (including those from people who came to the UK in a small boat) are ultimately successful. Specifically, the Ministry of the Interior reports that 59% of the claims filed in 2017-2019 inclusive were ultimately successful, representing appeals.

“It is reasonable to assume that Canal migrants will be more likely than other asylum seekers to obtain their asylum applications. This is because the nationalities that are most common among Channel migrants, such as Iranians, Syrians, Afghans, and Yemenis, have an above-average chance of ultimately succeeding. It is not clear what evidence exists to support the claim that 70% of Canal migrants are economic migrants. But based on the available data, it seems unlikely that more than 30% of Canal migrants will not have their asylum applications accepted. “

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