The Landmark Borders Bill and the future of immigration in the UK

This piece is authored by Luna Habte. Luna recently completed a four-week internship at PLMR. The internship was organised alongside the Taylor Bennett Foundation. The Foundation supports and encourages black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates to pursue a career in communications. As part of the internship Luna was tasked with researching a recent policy development and producing an article.

Priti Patel’s most recent Bill has been at the centre of controversy, with refugee charities calling for it to be scrapped. The Landmark Borders Bill was introduced into Parliament on Tuesday 6th July and has been described as the most “radical changes to the broken asylum system in decades.”

The Bill will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission to be here and smugglers will receive life sentences for their crimes. Additionally, Patel has called for increased UK Border Force powers whilst simultaneously decreasing the rights of migrants who have come to the UK illegally.

There has been a large increase in migrants travelling to the UK to seek asylum with around 6,000 people arriving in the first six months of the year, highlighting the rise in numbers of how many migrants have come into the UK.

So, what does the Landmark Borders Bill mean for the future of immigration in the UK? Seemingly, this Bill is a pivot away from Britain’s characterisation as one of the leading international hubs for people around the world. Britain’s history is rich in embracing individuals from all nations, for a plethora of reasons whether it be for work or as a haven for people to take refuge. While this Bill is focused on tackling illegal immigration, it remains to be seen what concrete action the Government will take to strengthen legal migration routes, the detail on which seem to be lacking.

Many have speculated that this will negatively impact the UK’s relationship with countries on a global scale. Many countries have shown hesitation towards the Bill, having not come and outwardly supported the new reforms to the Bill, including many EU countries.

Understandably, the Bill is meant to protect the UK’s borders, disincentivise the criminal gangs who profit from illegal immigration and regulate how migrants seek asylum in a controlled manner as well as in a system that has been described as ‘broken’. However, from a humanitarian perspective, measures contained within the Bill have been criticised as harsh and merciless towards individuals, who are in a desperate situation and seek safety and refuge. This has been the consensus amongst refugee charities, who have labelled it as “extreme and nasty.”

Priti Patel has called the new reforms “firm and fair” with her goal being to carry out the British public’s will of ‘taking back the borders’. However, many have raised concerns that it could break international law as The Law Society of England and Wales have cautioned that the reforms are likely to breach the UK’s obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. There is still a long way to go before these reforms are passed through Parliament, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the Commons.

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