What will UK’s new asylum plan mean for London?
Home Secretary Priti Patel has just announced asylum reforms that will make it tougher for migrants to settle in the UK.
Immigration officers will now “make every effort to remove those who enter the UK legally having travelled through a safe country first”, Patel said in the Commons last week.
But for many migrants, travelling through “safe” European countries is the only way to reach the UK.
Take Eritrea for example. The small East African country has a totalitarian government, meaning there are no elections and no free press, says Help Refugees.
At 18 years old, citizens are forced to partake in military service to fight against Ethiopia in an extremely dangerous war.
These young Eritreans can’t just hop on a plane to avoid the conflict. Many aren’t even granted passports until they’ve completed their military duties.
So, they are forced to make ‘illegal’ journeys to the UK. Here, they are supposed to be protected by refugee law.
This basically suggests that migrants must be protected by other countries when they face persecution in their homeland.
Many flee to European countries like Germany and France for this protection.
Patel’s asylum reforms will make it harder for refugees who have crossed the Channel to be granted refugee status, because France is not a particularly dangerous country.
While it may seem like a “safe” country to you and me, the UNHCR has warned that French police are violent towards refugees and evict their camps every few days.
So, can we really blame them for wanting to come to the UK?
The capital, in particular, is popular amongst refugees. Immigrants are the backbone of our city, often taking on the low-paying and essential jobs that keep London running.
According to London First, 37% of Londoners were born outside the UK and 25% of NHS workers here are migrants.
So, it’s clear that London thrives on its diverse population. But where is everyone actually from and what made them want to move here?
This map, created using information from the 2011 Census has all the information you need.
If you want to find out even more, check out our interactive map. It includes statistics and the reasons why people emigrate from specific countries.
It’s unlikely London would look so diverse if these reforms had been brought in earlier.
It’s predicted that our new “points-based system” might favour the people with the highest skills, rather than those fleeing conflict.
Either way, London benefits massively from the diversity and skills brought by immigration. As our map shows, this city has been shaped by migrants and Patel’s new asylum reforms could put an end to that.
Want to find out more about the global refugee situation?
‘I moved from London to Calais to tackle the refugee crisis’: Listen to Imogen’s story here.
Watch our video on what it’s like to be a refugee camping in Calais.
Disclaimer: these statistics come from the latest census information that is available from 2011. Global events, such as the Arab Spring, have occurred since then and so demographics will have changed. The most recent census was carried out in March 2021 but the information is not available to the public yet.