Digital borders will fix broken migrant system, says Priti Patel

Glasgow: Protestors surround immigration enforcement van

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In London yesterday, Ms Patel told the Bright Blue think tank: “Over the last few decades, public confidence in our broken system was shot to pieces.” Visitors to the UK will need a US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) before travelling. These will be required by anyone without a visa or immigration status. Ministers say the fully digital system will be operational by the end of 2025.

It will give the Government a “far clearer picture of who is here and whether they should be”, Ms Patel said.

The Home Secretary said she wanted to improve routes to the UK for refugees “so they don’t have to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers”.

And she insisted welcoming migrants “has and continues to enrich our nation immeasurably”.

But she warned it was “sheer fantasy” to say that we can give a home to anyone who wants to come here.

Ms Patel said reforms will reduce incentives to enter the UK illegally, stopping crime gangs from making a profit from dangerous crossings.

She said: “Allowing these repugnant gangs to continue to line their pockets is morally wrong and against our national interest. And we are coming after these gangs. Those responsible for these heinous crimes will face the full force of the law, with new maximum life sentences for people smugglers.”

Ms Patel hit out at attempts to block the removal of illegal immigrants such as when protesters in Glasgow surrounded a Border Force van with two men detained inside to stop it from leaving earlier this month.

She said: “In response to Glasgow, and the removal of people that had no legal right to be in the UK, I’ve already said in my remarks today we will continue to do that.

“That is effectively what the British public voted for.”

Ms Patel would not be drawn on how the changes would affect migration numbers, or talk about targets, but she insisted the reforms were about greater accuracy and “crucial” simplification.

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