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Asylum seekers: Dover MP Natalie Elphicke welcomes Home Secretary Priti Patel’s immigration reforms

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An MP has welcomed the Home Secretary’s new reforms to the immigration system, while calling for urgent action to stop illegal boats crossing.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke’s commented after last weekend’s protest march in the town on the issue and record arrivals across the Channel.

Asylum seekers brought to Dover Western Docks, last Thursday.. Picture courtesy of Chris Johnson
Asylum seekers brought to Dover Western Docks, last Thursday.. Picture courtesy of Chris Johnson

Priti Patel has announced wholesale reform of the asylum and immigration system, alongside reports of more than 3,000 people entering the country illegally during 2021 so far, a huge increase on last year.

In addition to the numbers of illegal entrants, of particular concern is an increase in young women and girls arriving alone into Dover from known sex trafficking and modern slavery routes.

Ms Patels’ reforms announced include a fully digital border system to enable the UK to act quickly to deny entry to foreign criminals and make the system easier to navigate for businesses.

They are also to provide the ability to count people in and out of the UK, and streamline the process coming to the UK legally.

These reforms also include a continued clamp down on people smugglers and the criminal gangs behind illegal migration, to make borders more secure.

“If people don’t follow the rules then consequences will follow, including sending people back.” MP Natalie Elphicke

Mrs Elphicke says: “I welcome the longer-term reforms announced but we do need to take more and firmer urgent action to tackle the Channel crossings and small boats right now and put a stop to this.

“That means tackling the criminal gangs at source, doing more to stop the small boats leaving France in the first place, turning them round in the Channel and swiftly returning people who have entered the country through an illegal route of entry.

“The new border system plans are straightforward and sensible. When people come into the country, there will be a visa system. We will be able to know who’s here. As well as check when people leave, so we know who’s left the country and who hasn’t.

“If people don’t follow the rules then consequences will follow, including sending people back to other countries if they haven’t come through the right route.

” This will help tackle the illegal migration routes like the Channel crossings and visa overstayers.

Dover and Deal MP Natalie-Elphicke. Picture: the office of Natalie Elphicke MP
Dover and Deal MP Natalie-Elphicke. Picture: the office of Natalie Elphicke MP

“Britain has long been a country that welcomes people fleeing persecution and in need of asylum. That won’t change.

“Where people come in through safe legal routes, they will find the process easier and quicker.

“But where people come into the country through illegal migration routes, from a safe country, they will not be able to automatically get the same rights as people who come in the right way.

“This new system will prioritise people who follow the rules – not those who pay traffickers.”

Organisers estimate that at least 150 people took part in Saturday’s march along Dover seafront and the A20 Snargate Street.

The demonstration at Dover on Saturday. Picture: Sam Lennon
The demonstration at Dover on Saturday. Picture: Sam Lennon

The protest was peaceful but four people were arrested, two on suspicion of obstructing the highway and two over alleged public order offences.

Pro-asylum seeker groups argue that under international law anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country, under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.They can stay there until their claim has been properly assessed.

Thre has been a pattern over the last few years of asylum seekers crossing the Channel to Britain in small, flimsy boats, which has at times led to tragedy.

A young Sudanese man was found dead and washed up on a beach at Sangatte, France, last August.

And last October four asylum seekers, including two children aged eight and five, were confirmed dead when their boat capsized off Dunkirk.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Deal Dover Sam Lennon



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