Offshore reception centres for processing migrants are ‘a winner’ – former UK Border Chief

Migrant crossings: Offshore centres 'a winner' says Saunders

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Kevin Saunders, who was the UK’s Chief Immigration Officer in Calais for 16-years told that he supported suggestions made by Home Secretary Priti Patel to process migrants away from the UK, in remote locations such as Ascension Island.

Discussing the idea, Mr Saunders said the concept of offshore centres were “a winner” to tacle the migrant crisis despite him claiming such an opinion is a “minority” one.

He noted how opponents to his demands may consider the proposals as “inhuman”.

But the former immigration chief claimed that such offshore centres “would stop people coming to the UK because they don’t want to be there”.

He added how while Ascension Island was put forward then scrapped as a location for a so-called migration reception centre, there are other options.

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Mr Saunders highlighted how one idea that he initially laughed off but then considered himself was the use of cruise liners as possible reception centres.

He suggested how the British government should “rent some cruisel iners, stick the people on the cruise liners, steer them out of UK waters and do the assessment there.”

There is no indication that the British government are considering such a move.

The comments follow months of chaos in the English Channel after a record of more than 25,000 migrants have crossed from France into UK this year alone.

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But the crisis culminated in a tragic incident last month when 27 people lost their lives during an attempted crossing in one of the deadliest ever days on the Channel.

It comes as the Home Office reported a record 1,185 people crossed the Channel in a single day in November. In comparison, the total number of crossings for the whole of 2020 was 8,469.

Home Office data suggested that 2020’s total was surpassed this year by the middle of July.

Many of the individuals who look to enter the UK originate from some of the most deprived countries in the world such as Yemen, Sudan and Iraq.


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But according to international law, people have the right to seek asylum in whichever country they arrive in, meaning migrants crossing the Channel have a right to claim asylum in Britain.

It comes as the Commons are seeking to push through Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill which she argues is the “long-term solution” to tackling migrant crossing crisis.

The bill seeks to change to change the current UK immigration system by bringing in a two-tier framework for asylum seekers arriving in the UK, which differs based on what method a person uses to enter the country.

It also seeks to change the process relating to asylum claims and appeals and put up a defence against people smuggling and modern slavery.

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