Labour proposes returns unit to remove failed asylum seekers

The Conservatives have been accused of overseeing 'chaos, collapsing confidence and calamitous costs' with migrants

Migrants who were picked up in the English Channel by a Royal National Lifeboat Institution are taken to Dungeness, Kent, in south-eastern England. AFP
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The UK's Labour Party has said if it wins the general election it plans to set up a 1,000-strong “returns-and-enforcement unit” that will swiftly remove failed asylum seekers and foreign offenders.

The Conservatives are overseeing “chaos, collapsing confidence and calamitous costs” in the immigration and asylum system, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said on Sunday as she promised an overhaul.

A new returns-and-enforcement unit will speed up the handling of removals cases and fix processing problems, Labour said.

It will work to identify, shut down and punish workplaces that are illegally employing and exploiting asylum seekers, and co-operate with police on arresting traffickers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children taken from hotels.

Officers from the unit will be posted to foreign countries to negotiate more returns agreements.

The unit will be backed with a new fast-track asylum casework system for safe countries so arrivals can be processed and returned within weeks.

Labour said the team will be funded through savings made from clearing the asylum backlog and ending the use of hotels to house migrants, which is costing taxpayers £8 million ($10.2 million) a day.

“The Conservatives have totally lost their grip on our borders and let our asylum system descend into chaos," Ms Cooper said.

“Without firm, fair enforcement of the rules, the system ends up in chaos, costs soar, confidence collapses and exploitation grows.

“The 40 per cent drop in returns of failed asylum cases since 2010 undermines the credibility of the entire system.

“That’s why Labour will set up a new returns-and-enforcement unit to speed up the system and make sure rules are respected.”

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel - video

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel

The government hopes to deter people from arriving in the UK on small boats across the English Channel through its stalled Rwanda deportation scheme.

Parliament is considering the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, which seeks to compel judges to regard the East African country as safe and clear the way to send some asylum seekers on a one-way flight there.

The Commons will on Monday debate and vote on amendments passed by the House of Lords.

Updated: March 17, 2024, 10:31 PM