Two-thirds of people crossing the English Channel on small boats would have successful asylum claims, according to research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Home secretary Suella Braverman was criticised for her comments last week implying that asylum seekers crossing the Channel were not genuine, saying: “Let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress.”
Marley Morris, the IPPR’s associate director, said that the “overwhelming majority” of people travelling to the UK on small boats make a claim for asylum.
He added: “We estimate that most people crossing the Channel would be successful in their asylum claims if they were properly considered. More people apply for asylum in France than the UK, but those crossing the Channel are likely to have specific reasons – for instance, they may have family or community ties in the UK.”
Almost three-quarters of asylum claims in the UK were granted refugee status or humanitarian protection at the initial decision stage in the last year. Refusals for asylum claims have gone down by 98%, largely because the government can no longer refuse people on the grounds that they should seek asylum in another safe country where they previously passed through or to which they have other connections. This rule was part of a EU-wide scheme called the Dublin regulation which the UK ceased to be a part of when it left the EU.
People coming to the UK from Albania
Government officials claimed that from May to September this year 42% of people who crossed the Channel in small boats were from Albania.
Last week, Braverman said: “We are getting many Albanian people coming here and the majority of them are adult single males.” The government is attempting to make a deal to deport Albanian migrants before they can appeal against rejected asylum claims.
However, The Independent reported that more than half of adult Albanian asylum applicants were granted asylum in the last year. The majority of asylum seekers from Albania with leave to remain in the UK were women who had been trafficked.
Asylum seekers in immigration detention
People arriving in the UK from overseas, including asylum seekers arriving on small boats, can be detained under immigration powers. The Home Office can detain people who have claimed asylum but who are waiting for the government to decide on their claim, and people whose asylum claim has been rejected.
Last year, 85% of people in immigration detention were detained for a short period of time and bailed out, the highest percentage released since records began, according to government statistics. The Migration Observatory said the change is down to the Home Office detaining people arriving in Dover for short periods before releasing them due to an asylum claim.
However, many people detained under immigration powers do not have access to legal representation and do not know they are eligible for bail. New research by the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees has found that 89% of detainees held in prisons have difficulty accessing legal representation.