Tide is turning on illegal immigration, says Grantham MP Gareth Davies
Nearly a year has passed since I wrote in these pages about the action the Government was taking to tackle illegal immigration, writes Grantham MP Gareth Davies.
In that time, for the first time since the phenomenon of small boat arrivals began, illegal Channel crossings have fallen considerably. This is one reason why the Home Office recently announced the closure of several hotels housing migrants around the country – including Stoke Rochford Hall in our constituency.
Whatever the current trend or level of illegal immigration, it is important to remember that it is usually unjustified and always unfair. It is unjustified because many fit the Immigration Minister’s description of ‘asylum shoppers’, who already passed through safe countries. It is unfair because those who come to our country illegally push in front of those making lawful applications, impose costs on communities to which they have never contributed, and presume upon the permission of the British people.
For all of these reasons, there were understandable objections to providing housing in hotels to those who took this unfair approach. Our undertaking to provide accommodation to those otherwise destitute was made in good faith, so it has been incredibly sad to see so many taking advantage of this generosity.
I am grateful for all those who have written to me to make their views clear; to Lincolnshire County Council for keeping in close contact throughout; and to the Home Office – whose Ministers I met with on several occasions – for listening and ensuring Stoke Rochford will be returned to our community at the earliest opportunity.
That opportunity came not as the result of coincidence but of concerted effort. According to UN data, there have already been 50,000 more arrivals across the Mediterranean so far this year than in the whole of 2022 – a 40% increase. This means the contrasting 20% reduction in new arrivals to the UK this year is no accident. Nor is the 75% increase in the number of people we have returned.
New, tougher legislation has sent a clear signal that those who arrive in the UK illegally can expect to be detained and swiftly removed. Investing in cooperation with France has seen new infrastructure installed, such as physical barriers to prevent the launch of dinghies, and interceptions on the French coast more than double in the last two years.
A third of all Channel crossings last year were made by Albanians, but an enhanced returns agreement has seen arrivals from this safe country plummet by a remarkable 90%. Meanwhile, 4,100 Albanian nationals with no right to be in the UK have been removed.
Other partnerships have been agreed with Italy and Turkey this year. Just last month, new initiatives were announced with Belgium, Bulgaria, and Serbia. All upstream interventions which help stem the flow downstream.
Next month, the Supreme Court will decide on the Rwanda Policy, which was already upheld in the High Court, and would further bolster our deterrent by adding a third country which has already been used by the UN and EU to accommodate migrants. We have already seen how coordinated measures can make a significant difference. We must continue to build our capabilities until an illicit ticket to cross the Channel is guaranteed to never be one-way, and a new life in Britain can never be illegally and unfairly seized.