Britain has recorded a spike in Indians crossing over illegally into the country across the English Channel last year, when a total of 683 Indian men were reported to have landed on its shores via small boats.
This figure, according to the latest UK Home Office “Irregular Migration to the UK” statistics for the year ending December 2022, shows a progressive rise from the 67 Indian nationals recorded to have crossed over in small boats in 2021, 64 in 2020 and none in 2019 and 2018.
The UK has a returns agreement with India under the Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP), something which was referred to by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Parliament last week.
“We have returns agreements with India, Pakistan, Serbia, Nigeria and — crucially — now with Albania, where we are returning hundreds of people,” Sunak told the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
“Our position is clear: If you arrive here illegally you will not be able to claim asylum here, you will not be able to access the modern slavery system and you will not be able to make spurious human rights claims. That is the right thing to do,” said the British Indian leader.
It came during the week in which he struck a new enhanced agreement with neighbouring France to crack down on small boats illegal migration via the route used by people smugglers, from the French port of Calais to the English port of Dover.
Under the agreement, the UK will deploy funds towards a new migrant detention centre on the French border and additional officers, drones and surveillance technology to clamp down on criminals facilitating unsafe small boat journeys.
According to the Home Office data on irregular migration, there were also over 400 Indian nationals who fell under the category of “inadequately documented air arrivals” into the UK in 2022.
The majority of the “irregular arrivals” from India on small boats were made up of men between the ages of 25 and 40, out of a total of 45,755 in 2022 – largely dominated by nationals from Albania and Afghanistan, followed by Iran, Iraq and Syria. Other South Asian nationalities recorded on the list include Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis.
It is believed that traffickers charge thousands of pounds to transport people illegally on small and often unsafe boats in the hope of claiming asylum in the UK. Several deaths have occurred over the years as a result of such journeys but the number of migrants undertaking these treacherous journeys has continued to spike manifold.
Sunak has made “Stop the Boats” one of his government’s top priorities, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman introducing a new Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament. The Bill would see anyone arriving illegally on “small boats” either returned to their home country or another “safe third country”. Additionally, anyone found to have entered the country illegally will be blocked from returning or claiming British citizenship in future.
“It has to stop. By bringing in new laws, I am making it absolutely clear that the only route to the UK is a safe and legal route. If you come here illegally, you won’t be able to claim asylum or build a life here,” Braverman told the Commons earlier this week.
“You will not be allowed to stay. You will be returned home if safe, or to a safe third country like Rwanda. It’s the only way to prevent people risking their lives and paying criminals thousands of pounds to get here,” the Indian-origin minister said.