Throughout the last year, Boris Johnson’s government have maintained that not only will immigration numbers come down, but also that illegal migrants who arrive here will be swiftly deported. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has been at the forefront of these promises, yet over the last few weeks it has emerged that what they say, and what they actually do, are two different things entirely.
It would be tragically comical if a government was blaming immigration lawyers for blocking deportations of illegal migrants, when that same government was funding those same lawyers – yet that is exactly what is happening. Britain, according to a study by the Council of Europe, currently has the highest level of legal aid anywhere in the continent, despite the political left continuously claiming it is not enough.
Incredibly, since 2017, activist lawyers from just eight firms received £42 million in legal aid, and then had the audacity recently to claim they were being ‘put in danger’ by this information being reported in the mainstream media. Priti Patel recently promised that, after the Brexit transition, she would introduce a ‘Fair Borders Bill’ to overhaul the system, yet at the same time she made no mention of cutting legal aid – the only mechanism which keeps immigration lawyers in their jobs.
The wider problem, which also enables such judicial activities, is the mass of human rights legislation – on a national, European and international level – which gives migrants such a high chance of staying in the country once they arrive. This coupled with the legal aid makes it very difficult for any Western country – the only nations who abide by immigration rights charters – to deport even the most heinous foreign criminals.
Legal aid in regards to immigration cases is so widespread that the law firm Duncan Lewis, the leader in the sector, states on the front page of its website that it is ‘the largest legal aid immigration practice in the UK’. According to The Sun newspaper, they have claimed £20 million in legal aid relating to immigration cases in just the last 3 years. This is probably not a surprise, considering the legal aid budget stands at £1.6 billion annually, and has been rising again since 2016, after a gradual fall between 2010 and 2015.
A common sense solution would be a law that ensures only British citizens can claim legal aid, making the activist immigration lawyer business an impossibility, as most of their clients are foreign. Until that happens, activist lawyers will continue to use tax payer money to halt the deportation of migrants, which often occur just hours before their flights are due to depart thanks to late term court injunctions.
There are currently an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants in Britain, with asylum claims costing the taxpayer £1 billion annually, and if even a small fraction of cases are brought to court, the Conservative government will be funding liberal immigration lawyers via legal aid the entire time. False promises of increasing deportations are just rhetoric unless Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are willing to reform the legal aid industry; and until they do, nothing will substantially change.
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