UK plan to tackle irregular migration could bring perma-backlog: Study

UK plan to tackle irregular migration could bring perma-backlog: Study

'Under most plausible scenarios likelihood of small boat arrivals falling to zero or negligible amounts is very low,' according to Institute for Public Policy Research report

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) – The British government's plan to curb Channel crossings via small boats risks creating a “perma-backlog” of people with cases deemed "permanently inadmissible" to the asylum system, according to a UK-based think tank.

In a report, published late Monday, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) stated that the "perma-backlog" risk posed by the Illegal Migration Bill could continue indefinitely "given arrivals likely to outpace removals," even if the controversial Rwanda plan is deemed lawful.

The bill aims to deport asylum seekers arriving in the UK by small boats, and the plan includes detaining the majority of those arriving in small boats for the first 28 days without bail or judicial review.

"Illegal Migration Act and Rwanda plan are unlikely to have a major deterrent effect on arrivals. But migration patterns may shift, leading to more undetected arrivals who do not make asylum claims and a growing undocumented population," the report warned.

Recalling the sharp increase in arrivals by small boat from less than 300 in 2018 to over 45,000 last year, the report highlighted that there is no reason to expect a “significant decline by 2025.”

The think tank researchers claimed that the asylum backlog, which currently stands at more than 130,000 cases, will most likely remain significant in coming years.

"With a general election expected in the next 12-18 months, the UK’s asylum system is in crisis," said the report, noting that the system costs around £3.6 billion (approximately $4.6 billion) a year in asylum support costs.

- 'Narrow window for success'​​​​​​​

Comparing potential scenarios for asylum policy over the next 12-18 months, the study predicted that there would still be a growing perma-blog situation with continuing small boat arrivals in the best-case scenario.

"Under most plausible scenarios – even those most advantageous from the government’s perspective – the likelihood of small boat arrivals falling to zero or negligible amounts is very low."

Marley Morris, IPPR's associate director for migration, trade, and communities, said ultimately the scenarios mean that the window for government success on the issue is remarkably narrow.

"This will mean a growing population of people permanently in limbo, putting huge pressure on Home Office accommodation and support systems - plus a risk of thousands of people who vanish from the official system and are at risk of exploitation and destitution," said Morris.

"Any incoming government would be likely to face a dire and increasingly costly challenge which it would need to address urgently from the outset - there will be no option to ignore or sideline the crisis it inherits," he added.

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