Refuse asylum to ‘economic migrant’ Albanians, urges Grayling

Albanians seeking to reach the UK should not be granted asylum unless there is an “extremely individual and particular reason”, a Cabinet minister has said. Chris Grayling urged the authorities to be “very vigorous” about applications from Albania as Downing Street said all asylum claims would be treated according to the rules. His comments came as Downing Street indicated that migrants are attempting to cross the Channel in boats because of improved security measures at the tunnel and ferry port in Calais.

On Saturday, 18 Albanians had to be rescued from an inflatable boat after it sank off the Kent coast, and immigration union officials have warned Britain’s coast is facing one of its greatest ever breaches from small boats and dinghies carrying migrants. Number 10 said additional vessels aimed at protecting the coastline would become operational in the coming months, but full deployment of the new boats will not take place until the end of next year. A Downing Street spokesman said the increased security at Calais had led some migrants to attempt to use “more dangerous routes” to reach the UK.

“We take every necessary action to protect our border security and will continue to do so,” the spokesman said.

“The important thing is that our approach is intelligence-based.

So we have worked with the French government at Calais to secure the border there and since we put security measures in place we have seen a small number of migrants trying to use more dangerous routes to get to the UK.”

Number 10 said all asylum applications made by people reaching the UK will be “processed according to the rules” and “the important thing is that we stop people attempting to use this route”. But Commons Leader Mr Grayling, who is campaigning for Brexit in the June 23 referendum, said Albanians should be treated as economic migrants because their country is pushing to join the European Union. Answering questions after a Westminster speech, he said: “I would want us to be very vigorous about any applicant for asylum from Albania.

“Albania is a candidate country of the European Union and unless there is an extremely individual and particular reason for granting asylum for someone from Albania then I would want to have an asylum system that treated those people as economic migrants.”

As part of the Government’s approach, additional vessels to supplement Border Force’s three cutters in UK waters will take to the sea in the coming months – but full deployment will not take place until the end of 2017. Around half a dozen of the new patrol vessels will be deployed to help intercept attempts to smuggle dangerous weapons, drugs and migrants into the country. Similar to but slightly bigger than standard rigid-hulled inflatable boats, these will complement the work of the cutters, working either in collaboration with them or independently.

Border Force is currently using a combination of its cutters, radar and aerial surveillance to detect and stop small craft approaching the UK. The authorities are also working with counterparts on the Continent to “identify unlawful maritime activity, including the facilitation of clandestine entry”, Downing Street said. Fears have been raised about the possible tragic consequences of migrants attempting to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

The Downing Street spokesman said: “We are always concerned about possible deaths, which is why, for example, there are naval vessels deployed in the Mediterranean to assist with the operations there.”

New maritime powers came into effect on Tuesday which will make it easier for Border Force officials to patrol the UK’s coastline and tackle the smuggling of illegal immigrants into the country. Border Force officers will have the power to board boats and to arrest people facilitating illegal migration. On Monday, Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Services Union, said large stretches of Britain’s coastline are being left unpoliced and officials simply do not know how many people have sneaked into the country undetected.

She told the Press Association her “gut feeling” and anecdotal evidence suggest Britain’s coasts are facing the biggest ever onslaught of people smugglers.

Earlier, Mr Grayling said: “I think this is a very real issue for us right now and if we leave the European Union it’s going to take a bit of time before we do that.

“I think and indeed I know Theresa May thinks that we’ve got to take quick action this summer.

“I certainly don’t want the English Channel turning into the Mediterranean with fleets of small boats coming over.”

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