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Monday, November 29, 2021

UK and Greece share vision on how to deal with migrants

The Greeks are constructing a new asylum camp, protected by razor wire, on the island of Samos to hold 3,000 migrants. Migrants can leave it only if they use their fingerprints to pass through steel-turnstile checkpoints so the authorities know exactly where they are at any time.

There are strict rules including an 8pm curfew with all counted in at night. There are colour-coded zones: Afghans (blue), Africans (red) and Arabs (green) all separated to stop fights and there will be a high-security wing for failed asylum seekers being prepared for deportation.

Ms Patel has launched a bidding process for companies to build reception centres in the UK to house at least 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers, which are expected to have a similar regime of checks as the Greeks.

She also confirmed this week that plans for offshore processing centres are “still on the table” and to which Channel migrants could be flown within seven days of their arrival in the UK. Both are designed to create a regime that will make it less attractive for migrants to cross the Channel.

Digitisation, returns and deportations

The Greeks have streamlined their asylum system by creating an “app” for migrants that digitises the application process from start to finish. It means decisions are made more quickly and easily, avoiding the backlogs bogged down by paperwork in the UK.

As Greece is an entry point to the EU, failed asylum seekers are deported directly to “source” countries in Africa or Asia. By contrast, the UK has some 80,000 failed asylum seekers who should be removed.

Ms Patel is proposing a one-stop shop for asylum seekers to present their entire case upfront at the start to combat what she describes as the “merry-go-round” of appeals fuelled by human rights lawyers. She also wants to adopt a similar digitisation to speed up the process and save costs.

Most of the migrants arriving across the Channel should have claimed asylum in the first “safe” EU country they passed through. But Ms Patel has yet to negotiate a new agreement to return them to those nations. Only five have been returned this year despite 24,500 reaching the UK.

Ms Patel is also changing the law to allow the Government to refuse or block visas from countries that fail to take foreign criminals or migrants with no right to stay in the UK.

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