The Home Office has admitted that the evidence that its new immigration plans will reduce channel crossings is “limited.”
In assessing the equal impact of the Citizenship and Borders bill, released Thursday, the ministry also said the reforms have “significant scope for indirect discrimination” and “the possibility of direct discrimination based on race.”
But it repeatedly asserts that any discrimination would be ‘objectively justified’ as a ‘proportionate means’ of achieving the political objectives of the plans, that is, ‘deterring illegal entry into the UK’.
The government’s new immigration scheme, which the Home Office hopes to implement through the bill, which Parliament is currently passing, seeks the “swift removal” of asylum seekers arriving in the UK via unauthorized routes, giving them only temporary protection, with limited rights if you couldn’t do it right away.
The impact assessment, which the department says will “ensure that equality is taken into account at an early stage to inform decision-making and political operations,” acknowledges that “increased security and deterrence” could “encourage” these applicants. from asylum to “trying more average risks of entry into the UK”.
He went on to say: “However, the dissemination of these procedures furthers the legitimate aim of encouraging asylum seekers to apply in the first safe country they arrive in and not to make dangerous smuggler-facilitated trips to reach the UK, despite of the limited evidence supporting the efficacy of this approach. ”
The document also recognizes that there is “significant room for indirect discrimination” in the bill, which it describes as “putting a particular protected group at a disadvantage and that disenfranchisement is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate objective. “.
In the section on race, it states that there is “limited possibility of direct discrimination on the basis of race (nationality)”, before adding: “We will rely on the limited exceptions found in the 2010 Act, which allow direct discrimination in race basis, when authorized by a minister or legislature. ”
The department also expresses concern that activists have raised the lack of safe and legal routes to the UK for those who will be punished for crossing the English Channel, noting that “there may be circumstances where someone faces immediate danger in your country of origin. is not eligible for our refugee resettlement programs ”.”
He went on to say that the Home Secretary “may consider that such cases, given their difficult circumstances, merit the use of discretion to allow people to come to the UK”, although it is unclear by what mechanism this could happen. .
The Interior Ministry states at the end of the document that the plans “will promote equal opportunities” for asylum seekers, “in terms of which they can be persuaded not to take these risks.”
It comes after news broke last week that Priti Patel had ordered officials to rewrite the UK’s interpretation of maritime laws to allow border forces to divert small boats, as part of the new plans.
France later warned that the canal could become a “theater of human tragedies” as the country’s interior minister promised not to cooperate with the controversial plan, sparking a major diplomatic row.
The Home Office said its new immigration plan “will welcome people through safe and legal routes while preventing abuse of the system, cracking down on illegal entry, and discouraging people from crossing dangerous channels. and potentially fatal “.
The plans have been widely criticized by NGOs and lawyers in the UK, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who warned they could “harm lives” and undermine international cooperation on refugee issues.