The government recently announced plans to crack down on illegal immigration, with tougher laws proposed for those associated with people smuggling and trafficking.
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New criminal offences
The government recently announced a range of proposals regarding immigration, with Home Secretary Priti Patel describing it as the most significant overhaul of the system in decades. If passed into law, there would be new criminal offences and harsher penalties for those who try to enter the UK illegally, and those who facilitate illegal immigration.
For example, the maximum penalty for facilitating illegal immigration will be increased from 14 years to life imprisonment. The definition of ‘facilitation’ will be broadened, and will include those who pilot small boats used to carry migrants across the English Channel.
Border Force will be given additional powers to search containers, seize and dispose of vessels, and stop and redirect vessels away from the UK. Greater penalties could also be imposed on those who fail to secure a vehicle, including hauliers found to be stowing migrants – regardless of the security measures they have put in place.
Immigrants who commit criminal offences will suffer greater consequences. Those sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment or more, and who represent a danger to the UK community, could have their refugee status removed and be considered for deportation. The penalty for foreign offenders who breach a deportation order and return to the UK will increase from six months to a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The proposals also address a range of other factors that could impact immigrants and asylum seekers in the UK. For instance, there will be a higher legal test for modern slavery, after the government reported an “alarming increase” in the number of illegal migrants seeking modern slavery referrals. There will also be a pilot scheme that aims to identify victims of modern slavery.
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