The United Kingdom has announced plans to “fast-track” the deportation of Albanian asylum seekers as authorities attempt to tackle a surge in people crossing the English Channel in small boats.
British immigration officers will immediately process asylum claims made by Albanians entering the UK on small boats, and those with no right to remain in the country will be removed “as soon as possible”, according to the Home Office, which oversees border enforcement.
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The agency wants to dissuade Albanians from making the risky crossing in inflatable boats by demonstrating that they will not be allowed to live and work in the UK. That message is also being delivered through a series of Albanian-language advertisements on social media sites.
“Large numbers of Albanians are being sold lies by ruthless people-smugglers and vicious organised crime gangs, leading them to take treacherous journeys in flimsy boats to the UK,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement on Thursday. “This abuse of our immigration system and people risking their lives cannot go on.”
The number of Albanians crossing the Channel on small boats has soared in recent months, even though the UK considers Albania a “safe and prosperous country”, according to Home Office statistics released on Thursday.
About 2,165 Albanians arrived in the UK via this route in the first six months of 2022, compared with just 23 in the same period last year.
Overall, 12,747 people entered the UK on small boats during the first half of the year, more than double the previous year’s figure.
Albanians are now tied with Afghans as the biggest nationalities arriving on small boats, with each accounting for 18 percent of the total.
Possible deportation to Rwanda
The Home Office publicity campaign will seek to reverse this trend by warning migrants that they face possible deportation to Rwanda and increased prison sentences for immigration offences.
The advertisements also provide information on safe immigration routes and advice to apply for asylum in the first safe country a migrant reaches.
The measures were announced after meetings between Patel and her Albanian counterpart, Minister for Interior Affairs Bledi Cuci.
He said the two ministers also discussed ways to provide more opportunities for Albanian labourers and skilled professionals to work legally in the UK.
“We discourage these illegal and dangerous practices,” Cuci said of the small boat crossings.