UK immigration: Life sentences for migrant boat pilots

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Pilots of migrant boats crossing the Channel face life sentences under tough new UK immigration laws – previously, people smugglers could be sentenced to 14 years in prison. Meanwhile, anyone caught entering the UK illegally risks up to four years in prison under the new legislation. 


The strict new measures recently came into force as part of the Nationality and Borders Act.

The Nationality and Borders Act gives the UK government new powers to tackle illegal immigrant crossings. Under the latest laws, anyone found to have entered Britain illegally or overstayed their UK visa could face a maximum penalty of four years behind bars – a sharp increase on the previous six-month prison term.

The government will also have the power to deport foreign nationals in UK prisons for up to a year before the end of their jail sentence. UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who is under mounting pressure to reduce soaring migrant crossings in the Channel, welcomed the new laws as a ‘major step towards securing Britain’s borders.


Crucial milestone

Patel said: “This is one of the most crucial milestones in delivering on our promise to the British public to take back control of our borders. While there is no single solution to the global migration crisis, these reforms which come into effect today play a vital role in overhauling the broken asylum system as we put our New Plan for Immigration into action.”

“We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we offer protection and sanctuary to those in genuine need; but these new measures will enable us to crack down on abuse of the system and the evil people smugglers, who will now be subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment as a result of this law coming into force,” Patel added.

The Nationality and Borders Act became law in April (2022) but did not come into effect until June. The legislation gives UK immigration officers powers to search containers offloaded from ships or aircraft. 

It also enables the Home Office to scale back or suspend UK visas for any country posing a threat to UK national security or refuses to take back citizens that do not have a legal right to be in Britain. Plus, ministers can strip foreign offenders of their British citizenship if they are dual nationals.


More boats head to Britain 

Despite new laws coming into effect, a steady flow of dinghies continue to depart for Britain from the beaches of northern France

Although Britain is moving toward harsher penalties for people smugglers, and ushering in its controversial Rwanda immigration plan, men, women and children continue to make the treacherous journey across the Channel via busy shipping lanes.

So far this year, a reported 12,312 migrants have reached Britain, compared with 5,654 at the same point in 2021 and 2,449 in 2020.

Recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to answer when asked how much Channel crossings would need to fall by for the UK government’s Rwanda immigration plan to be considered a success. 

Earlier this month, the first scheduled deportation flight to Rwanda was cancelled at the last minute following an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. can help with Sponsor Licences

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