British government proposes bill to refuse asylum seekers

The British government has introduced a bill that would bar claims of asylum by illegal migrants who arrive over the Strait of Dover in small boats.

The government presented the Illegal Migration Bill to parliament on Tuesday. It says people who cross the strait separating England and France by boat will, in principle, be refused claims of asylum and be deported.

The government says more than 45,000 people tried to cross the strait by boat to seek asylum in 2022. That was the highest number since record-keeping began five years earlier.

The government says criminal organizations are arranging boat trips for a fee and that many of the arrivals are not refugees but people coming to seek jobs.

It says that they include young people from Albania and other countries that are relatively politically stable.

Britain says public spending for facilities to accept the migrants and other costs amounts to 3 billion pounds, or about three-and-a-half billion dollars, per year.

Stopping illegal migrants is one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's key policies.

Sunak says, "If we can't stop the boats, our ability to help genuine refugees in future will be constrained." He says it is "not criminal gangs" who should decide who comes to Britain.

Some human rights groups and charities have expressed concern over the bill. They say it violates an international convention on the protection of refugees and poses a humanitarian problem.