New rules tighten up asylum process

Plans are under way to merge the layers of the asylum appeals
system into one.

A consultation document published this week by the Home Office and
Department for Constitutional Affairs also proposes to give the
Immigration Services Comm-issioner powers to investigate legal
advisers, sanctions for asylum seekers who destroy documentation or
travel without it, and an end to support for families able but
unwilling to return home.

Home secretary David Blunkett said:”Our strategy is not
anti-immigration. But the asylum system cannot work in the
interests of genuine refugees if it is abused and open to
exploitation by criminal gangs and the so-called legal advisers who
help them.”

But chief executive of the Refugee Council Maeve Sherlock warned
that sanctioning asylum seekers arriving without documents was
“penalising the victims rather than targeting the criminal

Last week the government announced that up to 15,000 families
caught up in the backlog of asylum applications would be eligible
to remain in the UK, under a one-off exercise aimed at saving

The exercise will apply to families who sought asylum before
October 2000, had children before that date, and suffered delays in
the system. It will also apply where the final appeals process has
not been exhausted and final decisions were made but removal was
not effected.

– Asylum reforms consultation until 17 November. E-mail comments to

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