It's time to stop pretending on UK migration and asylum

Without the quick-thinking actions of Liverpool taxi-driver David Perry on November 14th of this year, Britain may well have experienced its worst terrorist attack to date. An Islamist extremist wearing a suicide vest was just moments away from the door of the country's largest maternity hospital, packed, like all UK hospitals, to overflowing.

This was not, however, his target of first choice: the man who had "converted to Christianity" in order to help his asylum application, had initially intended to bomb a remembrance service at one of Liverpool's two cathedrals.

In the light of this lucky escape Britain needs to re-evaluate is thinking on asylum seekers. Firstly, we need to stop pretending.

It's time to stop pretending that boatloads of innocent families are crossing the English Channel to flee terror and persecution.

The boats are now almost entirely packed with unaccompanied males of military age.

" familiar pictures of dozens of migrants crammed into inflatables show today, up to a thousand more illegal and undocumented migrants – the vast majority young men from who knows where – stream across the Channel every day to join our asylum system and, in most cases, never leave again," wrote Dan Wooton on MailOnline, following the failed terror attack.

Screenshot 2021 11 17 At 10 50 55

"It’s impossible not to link the inability of the government to stop the boats – and now the jet skis – on the Channel to their inability to keep us safe from domestic terrorism."

Nearly two thirds of migrants who cross the Channel to reach the UK are originally from the Middle East, newly released figures have recently revealed.

More than 61 per cent of those who make the dangerous journey across the 21 mile straight Calais to Dover are nationals from countries such as Iran and Iraq according to figures from the British Refugee Council.

The highest number of migrants arriving in small boats are from Iran, with 3,187 Iranian nationals reaching UK shores from January last year to May this year. This accounts for 26 per cent of all arrivals in small boats over this period.

Figures also show that 2,185 people from Iraq crossed the Channel over the same period. The figure makes up around 17 per cent of the 12,195 migrants who arrived in the UK in small boats across 2020 and the start of this year.

A total of 1,185 people crossed the channel last Thursday alone, eclipsing the previous daily high of 853. Overall this year, there have been more than 20,000 crossings.

We need to stop pretending that Home Secretary Priti Patel is doing, or indeed can do, anything to stop this invasion.

In her latest headline statement, made just days ago, she vowed to prevent “100 per cent” of migrant Channel crossings and vowed to make the deadly route across the sea “unviable” during talks with French officials.

This came after it was announced that nearly 4,000 people crossed the English Channel aboard small boats earlier this month, and like all of her statements on this crisis to date, it will in all probability will come to nought.

Just hours after making her statement, the Home Secretary announced that in future asylum seekers held in new purpose-built reception centres will have to obey strict rules or risk losing their right to claim asylum.

So what? Liverpool bomber Emad Al Swealmeen reportedly had his asylum application rejected as many as seven times. He was also reportedly arrested by police following a knife incident in Liverpool in 2014. Was he deported? No.

In January of this year he simply renewed his asylum appeal under a new name.

We need to stop pretending that we are deporting bogus and failed asylum seekers.

"How many was it that we removed this year, was it five? Some 30,000 arrived and we removed five - not very good really, is it?", asked former immigration chief Kevin Saunders. "They know that once they're in the UK they've won the jackpot."

According to a recently published House of Commons Briefing on asylum statistics (Sept. 23th, 2021):

  • As of June 2021, the total ‘work in progress’ asylum caseload consisted of 125,000 cases. Of these, 57,000 cases were awaiting an initial decision at the end of 2020, 5,900 were awaiting the outcome of an appeal, and approximately 39,500 cases were subject to removal action.
  • The total asylum caseload has doubled in size since 2014, driven both by applicants waiting longer for an initial decision and a growth in the number of people subject to removal action following a negative decision.

The problem is that the UK is just too attractive, so people will continue to come while we're very, very attractive. People know that they're not going to be removed, this is why they destroy all their documentation. It's a real worry because we don't know who people are, because they destroy all their documents, they don't give us their right names, where they come from, or anything along those lines. The biggest draw is these people know everything in the United Kingdom is free, they are going to get education, medical treatment, money, accommodation, it's all a big, big draw.

Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force.

We need to stop pretending that the UK government has any intention of stemming the flow of migrants into the UK.

Lord Andrew Green, a senior official with the UK Foreign Service for 35 years, and in 2001 founder of the think-tank Migration Watch UK, has revealed the government's real agenda.

In 2002 we estimated that non-EU net migration would run at two million over the next decade. Cue howls of derision. Yet the Office for National Statistics later put the figure at 2.1 million.

Lord Andrew Green.

Lord Green told the Daily Mail how in 2003, prior to the May 1st EU enlargement which saw Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - combined population 74,722,685 - join the bloc, "a study commissioned by the Home Office claimed that East European immigration from countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic would be between 5,000 and 13,000 a year.

"We described these estimates as ‘almost worthless’. In the event, the inflow was 72,000 a year.

"Something similar happened with immigration from Romania and Bulgaria between 2014 and 2020 – low official estimates were followed by huge numbers in reality."

Somewhat tellingly, during this period the UK government took the controversial decision to impose welfare restrictions only (albeit with no need to register), clearly suggesting that despite relatively domestic unemployment, the government's priority was that UK businesses would benefit from incoming cheap labour, and taxpayer could deal with the unemployment benefits bill.

Only Ireland - which needs cheap labour for its agricultural sector - and ultra-liberal Sweden also took the controversial decision to open their borders to unlimited immigration from the new member states.

Such was the scale of this wave of "unexpected" migrants, Poland's Barka Foundation for Mutual Help, which works with excluded and vulnerable members of the community, was contacted by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and two UK NGOs for help in dealing with the rapidly growing numbers of homeless Poles.

Soon, Barka UK was operating in no less than eight London boroughs where social services had been swamped by new arrivals. The organisation helped to repatriate over 3000 migrants from Central and Eastern Europe.

Since 2013 Polish citizens have accounted for the highest number of EU nationals in UK jails, suggesting that more checks on who comes into the country might be advisable. As of June 30th of this year, 868 Poles account for 9% of all inmates. This number is dwarfed however by the number of Albanian prisoners - 1528, or 16%.

Many of these Albanians are likely to be asylum seekers - failed or otherwise - and it is slightly worrying that the European Commission in recent weeks declared Albania "ready to start accession negotiations" with the EU.

It's time to stop pretending the government is being entirely honest with us.

Net foreign immigration has now averaged 300,000 a year for 20 years. The UK population has grown by eight million, 84 per cent due to immigration and the children of immigrants.

The costs of processing and housing asylum seekers are colossal.

However, it is not only the desire for cheap labour that has driven immigration: the sector has become a cash-cow for large corporations managing logistics contracts.

Coincidentally, some of those who benefit the most - as was the case in the COVID pandemic PPE debacle - appear to have close contacts within the Conservative Party.

One of these is UK company Serco, which amongst other things provides housing for asylum seekers, often by taking over hotels and filling them with said migrants at huge cost to the taxpayer.

Serco is a major beneficiary of what are known as Asylum Accommodation and Support Contracts (AASC), and whilst it currently manages some 500 contracts worldwide, the bulk of its business is in the UK.

Some may question the wisdom of giving public contracts to Serco: In 2013 Serco paid a £70m settlement to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) after the firm and fellow outsourcing group G4S faced allegations of charging for tagging people who were either dead, in jail, or had left the country.

After this incident - over which no criminal charges were brought - Serco appointed a new CEO, the Hon. Rupert Soames OBE.

After taking up his position, he said “Those of us who now run the business are mortified, embarrassed and angry that, in a period between six and nine years ago, Serco understated the level of profitability of its electronic monitoring contract in its reports to the Ministry of Justice."

In July 2019, a fine of £19.2m was imposed on Serco for fraud and false accounting over its electronic tagging service for the MoJ. The company was also ordered to pay the Serious Fraud Office's investigative costs of £3.7 million.

After these, and other issues, one might expect that Serco would struggle to get public sector contracts: however, nothing could be further from the truth.

New Asylum Accommodation and Support Contracts with a total estimated value of £4.0 billion over 10 years, running from 2019 to 2029, have recently been awarded. Serco is one of the beneficiaries of these contracts.

This begs the question: if Priti Patel and the government she represents are serious about preventing “100 per cent” of migrant Channel crossings, then why have they issued contracts to house asylum seekers until 2029?

And why to Serko in particular, a company which appears to have something of a history of benefiting from lucrative public contracts, including notably those deriving from the privatisation of Britain's troubled - and hugely expensive - rail network?

It just may be worth noting that the aforementioned Hon. Rupert Soames OBE is the younger brother of the Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Nicholas Winston Soames, a former Conservative Member of Parliament from 1983-2019 and Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 1994 to 1997.

They are both Grandsons of former Conservative Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, and like the last two Conservative Prime Ministers, David Cameron and Boris Johnson, both attended Eton.

Britain has been receiving about 40,000 asylum seekers a year - a number that is growing rapidly - many of whom will later send for "family members" - to join them.

Included in their swollen ranks will be many men like Emad Al Swealmeen.

Its time to stop pretending otherwise!

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

He is a of member the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK, and the oldest in the world having been founded in October 1884

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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