The National:

THE Conservative Government’s "New Plan for Immigration" is a temper tantrum following its disastrous Brexit negotiations – the results of which we have only started to experience. And like this government's other disastrous policies, it will be the most vulnerable people in our society that will be forced to bear the effects.

“Unfounded claims and repeat appeals are placing a burden on the asylum system,” is the unfounded claim touted by the Home Office’s Twitter account (preceded by images of people smugglers and a reminder that free movement has been ended).

We can at least agree that the asylum system is under unbearable strain. A “relentless” culture of targets for asylum decision-makers at the Home Office, as well as the poor quality of training provided for new recruits, has for years meant that the UK asylum system is considered “a lottery” even by the Home Office’s own employees.

The National:

Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, which is being used by the Government to house people seeking asylum

The cases that are rejected by the Home Office are frequently found by judges at the Immigration and Asylum tribunal to have a well-founded fear of persecution. Around 39% of appeals are successful – one of the highest rates in Europe – and this is despite the previous disastrous restructuring of legal aid. In other words, over one in three of the Home Office’s asylum decisions are wrong, with accountability passed on to the courts.

Similarly, this new plan attempts to pass accountability for the Government’s failures to anyone but themselves: the EU, asylum applicants, "activist lawyers", people smugglers and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention itself. It is in inconvenient truth for this government that Article 31 of the Refugee Convention protects asylum seekers who have entered the country without prior authorisation from discrimination by signatories.

No doubt this new plan will, as a result, be discussed and fought ad nauseam in the courts. Far from reforming the system and simplifying the burgeoning complexities of immigration and asylum law, the result will instead be one of increased confusion and complication while this plan is haphazardly introduced, challenged, modified, challenged – repeat. Moreover, the organisation of returning asylum claimants who have travelled to the UK through EU member states will become reliant on the political climate du jour – thereby adding yet another form of limbo to asylum system.

READ MORE: Lift the Ban: Park Inn survivor speaks as asylum seekers launch video

Alongside this bitter pill comes the offering of a safe and legal resettlement route akin to the existing Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme – which is almost entirely reliant on critically underfunded local authorities to enact. Even before the pandemic waiting times for those already accepted onto the scheme exceeded a year. It is therefore an important scheme, yet not one that is fit for delivering protection for those who are fleeing from persecution and who’s lives are at immediate risk.

Instead we will see the creation of a two-tiered asylum system, where those who have not arrived through the resettlement scheme will be at constant risk of being returned. One can only imagine the mental torture of permanently fearing removal and the setbacks this will cause attempts to provide support for integration.

Amid the pageantry of the press releases will be the claim that this new plan will be tough on people smugglers that put peoples’ lives at risk. The approach is one that is typical of this government, in that it is blind to the available science, favouring vote-winning hard rhetoric. Instead, evidence from the US-Mexico border and the Mediterranean points to the fact that hardening borders increases peoples’ reliance on smugglers and creates a new underclass of exploitable people of "illegal" status.

READ MORE: Priti Patel claims her controversial asylum system overhaul plan is not 'inhumane'

Far from disrupting smugglers’ business models, therefore, the plan will play directly into their hands. Meanwhile, it is clear that the Government has not understood the "pull factors" that lead people to risk their lives at sea in crossing the Channel. A supposedly exploitable asylum system is not the main one. Instead, as research has shown, pull factors are complex and are often linked to “family and community ties, histories of colonial relations between sending and host country, and general imaginings of a host country being safe, peaceful, and the rule of law upheld (irrespective of actual policies).”

No doubt we will hear the phrase "the UK has a long tradition of providing protection for people" frequently repeated before announcing the next devastating measure to take back control (read: reducing asylum claims and refugee numbers in the UK). It is a tired phrase that by now sounds exactly like a person saying, “I’m not racist but …”. Regardless of whether or not the UK has a long tradition of providing protection, under this government it will not.