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RIGHT-WING peers were accused of “inflammatory” rhetoric today after calling for tougher immigration enforcement and an unlawful fast-track asylum system to be reinstated.
On Monday Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that the government had repeatedly failed to remove people “who have no right to remain” in the country.
“There are large numbers here illegally, both putting pressure on our public services and housing and risking ill-treatment and exploitation,” she said.
The former Tory business and Treasury minister suggested that the government should “take advantage of the current market” to buy some planes in order to save costs on deporting asylum-seekers.
Speaking during a Lords committee stage debate on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, Baroness Neville-Rolfe claimed this would be cheaper than using charter flights, “given the failure rate and the apparent ability of lawyers to delay deportation on flimsy grounds.”
The Bill, which has already passed through the Commons, seeks to end free movement with the EU and implement a points-based immigration system.
The peer referenced a deportation flight last week to Spain in which lawyers managed to secure a last-minute reprieve for nine of the 20 passengers.
Reports later emerged that the 11 Syrian asylum-seekers deported were then forced to sleep on the streets in Madrid after Spain refused to take responsibility for them.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe’s rant was followed by Lord Green of Deddington, who said that “weak enforcement” of forced returns had resulted in “90,000 immigration offenders living in the community, somewhat more than the size of the British army.”
Lord Green, the founding chairman of anti-immigration group Migration Watch UK, also called for the return of the Detained Fast-Track System.
The Home Office was forced to scrap this system, which allowed people to be detained throughout the duration of their asylum claim, after it was found to be unlawful and “structurally unfair” by the Court of Appeal.
Hitting back at Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Green Party peer Baroness Bennett said that the government did need to “properly fund and prioritise” enforcement but by “focusing on the exploiters and not the victims.”
Yesterday politicians condemned the right-wing peers’ comments as “inflammatory” and “divisive.”
Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy told the Star: “This kind of inflammatory rhetoric about migrants is rooted in right-wing fantasy but it has devastatingly real consequences for the people it’s directed towards, as we saw with the far-right blockading Dover last weekend.
“The pressure on social housing and health services isn’t a result of migration, it’s the result of Tory governments selling off council housing stock and cutting our NHS back to the bone.”
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants chief executive Satbir Singh accused politicians of using “inflammatory and divisive language” and of characterising migration as “an insoluble and urgent problem, when in fact it is a normal feature of human existence.
“It is time to overhaul the immigration system so that it treats migrants and refugees with humanity and respect and replaces a culture of hostility with one of welcome and support,” he added.
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