UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has officially unveiled her so-called ‘New Plan for UK Immigration’ against a backdrop of scathing criticism. New reforms were officially launched on 24 May, with restrictions targeting everything from asylum to immigration lawyers and EU citizen travel.
The crown jewel of the new plans will be a digital visa regime, which will allow the UK to accurately track the number of people, for the first time, entering and leaving Britain. Ms Patel said the revamped UK immigration and asylum system will be ‘logical and fair’.
Announcing the new look UK immigration regime, the Home Secretary said: “We are introducing a fully digital border system to make Great Britain safer.”
British nationality law
Patel claimed that the reforms were ‘long overdue’, saying: “It is a sheer fantasy that we can give homes to anyone who comes here, British nationality law has not changed since 1983 and is now filled with anomalies.”
Meanwhile, Patel said that the changes will help make it easier for businesses to navigate the UK immigration system and once gain reiterated that the UK is taking back control of its borders.
As part of a wide-ranging statement, the Home Secretary said: “The government is taking back control of immigration because there is such a thing as too much immigration. I’m proud as a Briton and I’m proud of my parents and my British-Indian background.”
Patel went on to state that the UK government is not anti-immigration, but instead said that the British public wanted to see Britain’s ‘broken immigration system’ fixed and greater control over free movement, which she claims the public demanded when Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.
As part of further restricting EU citizens from entering the UK – a move which Patel says will ban serious and dangerous foreign criminals – the Home Office will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) document. Similar to the US ESTA, EU citizens looking to visit the UK will reportedly be charged £9 to enter Britain.
Meanwhile, under the new system, the Home Secretary will have the power to grant UK citizenship in ‘compelling’ and ‘exceptional’ circumstances, where somebody has suffered ‘historic unfairness that is out of their control’.
Speeding up deportation
As part of the new plans, Patel said the next phase is to speed up the deportation of immigrants who have ‘no legal right to be in the UK’.
She said: “I have a message for those seeking to disrupt our enforcement officers, we will not allow such disruption.”
Meanwhile, Patel also mentioned the British National (Overseas) visa, which launched in January and is exclusively for Hong Kong nationals. The BNO visa route was launched to help Hong Kongers leaving the territory following the implementation of strict Chinese security laws in the region. The immigration route forms part of the new look system.
Vague and unworkable
The official launch of Patel’s New Plan for UK Immigration comes against a backdrop of scathing criticism, most notably from the United Nations. However, immigrant advocacy groups, women’s rights’ groups, immigration lawyers, some businesses and more have been left infuriated by Patel’s plans, with many describing them as vague and unworkable.
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