The United States and the United Kingdom are making major efforts to crack down on asylum applications from migrants who have entered their countries illegally – while their leaders are under political pressure due to ongoing migrant crises.
“If you enter Britain illegally, you will be detained and quickly removed,” British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Braverman announced new legislation, the “Illegal Migration Bill”, that will block asylum applications for any migrant entering the UK illegally. The bill specifies how they will be detained or quickly returned to a home country or a third country. The government has previously signed a safe third country agreement with Rwanda.
Britain has struggled for decades with migrants entering Europe and crossing the continent before reaching France and attempting to cross the English Channel by hiding in vehicles or crossing the water in small boats.
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Home Secretary Suella Braverman speaks in the House of Commons on the “Illegal Migration Bill”, March 7, 2023.
The number of people coming to the UK by small boat rose from 8,500 in 2020 to 28,000 in 2021 and 45,000 in 2022, significantly increasing pressure on the government as backlogs grow and hotels become overcrowded with housed migrants. Repeated Conservative governments have promised, and largely failed, to crack down on illegal immigration.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the consequences of an asylum ban will lead to less traffic.
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“People need to know that if they come here illegally, they will be detained and quickly removed. Once they do, they won’t come again and the boats will stop,” he said.
The announcement in the UK is similar in many ways to the Biden administration’s announcement last month of a proposed rule to deal with asylum claims at the southern border. Under the rule, migrants would automatically be presumed ineligible for asylum if they entered the US illegally and did not apply for asylum in a country they have already traveled through.
Unaccompanied minors would be exempt, and there would be other factors that could refute the presumption, including an acute medical emergency, being a victim of human trafficking and facing an “extreme and imminent” threat to life or safety. But all others are presumed ineligible and therefore removable.
Migrants can still apply for asylum, but they must report to a port of entry and make an appointment through the CBP One app. The rule will go into effect in May, before the end of Title 42 public health order.
That’s because the government is now in its third year of dealing with a migrant crisis, with more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022 and an FY 2023 on track to surpass those numbers. The government has said recent figures showing a sharp drop in encounters are proof that the government’s policies are working.
The move has come under attack from left-wing Democrats and immigration activists who have likened it to a Trump-era transit ban. The administration has dismissed that narrative, saying it is opening asylum pathways for migrants to use.
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Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“As we have seen time and time again, individuals who are given a safe, orderly and lawful route to the United States are less likely to risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to arrive in our southern border and face the legal consequences of illegal entry,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the rule.
But that has done little to soften the left pushback. The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue if the rule is finalized. Meanwhile, Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., The “unscrupulous, unacceptable, and un-American” move.
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A coalition of Democratic senators said the move “perpetuates the damaging myth that asylum seekers are a threat to this country” while calling on the government to change course.
There has been a similar left-wing backlash in the UK, with activists and Labor politicians arguing that the legislation is unworkable and brutal. The bill is also likely to face significant legal challenges in the coming months.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called the bill a “cheat that makes chaos worse” and accused her Tory rivals of “government by gimmick”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Adam Shaw is a political reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at Twitter.