UK interior minister Patel vows asylum system overhaul

British interior minister Priti Patel accused migrants crossing the Channel on boats of “shopping around” to claim asylum, as she vowed Sunday to overhaul the UK’s response to the arrivals.

Delivering the keynote address on the second day of the ruling Conservatives’ annual party conference, Patel pledged to introduce legislation next year “to fix this broken system”.
In a speech short on policy details, she said asylum-seekers travelling through Europe before reaching Britain on small vessels showed the current system was “neither firm nor fair”.
“Shopping around for where they claim asylum. Making that final and extremely dangerous Channel crossing to the United Kingdom, while lining the pockets of despicable international criminal gangs,” Patel said.
“Our broken system is enabling this international criminal trade.”
Britain is grappling with how to deal with a recent surge in irregular migration across the Channel, with recent reports of possible solutions under consideration also causing an outcry.
Holding asylum-seekers on a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean which is closer to Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro than London are among the proposals said to be under discussion within Patel’s ministry.
Other purported suggestions reported in the British media involve mooring a 40-year-old ferry off the English coast to house up to 1,400 people in 141 cabins, or even sending migrants to decommissioned oil rigs in the North Sea.
Patel did not address any of the mooted measures in her address, delivered virtually to Conservative Party members’ from a stage in England’s second city Birmingham due to the pandemic.
She said the reforms to the system would aim to welcome people through safe and legal routes and “stop the abuse of the system”, but warned “this will take time”.
In the meantime she added the government would step up its operational response to illegal migration.
That would include continuing to target trafficking gangs and making more “immediate returns of those who come here illegally”, Patel said.
“We will continue to examine all practical measures to effectively deter illegal migration,” she added.
Patel also used her speech to the Tory grassroots audience to tout Britain’s new points-based immigration system that ends the free movement of people and prioritises those with high-skilled jobs.
The new regime will come into force next year when the country no longer abides by European Union rules after leaving the 11-month post-Brexit transition phase.
Control of Britain’s borders was one of the issues that drove voters to support a split from the bloc in the 2016 membership referendum.
“For the first time in decades, the British Government will determine who comes in and out of our country,” Patel, the daughter of Ugandan Indians who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, said.
“We will welcome people based on the skills they have to offer and the contribution they can make.”

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Interior secretary vows ‘no one will be removing or renaming the Washington Monument’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt fired back at Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on “The Story” Wednesday after a commission sanctioned by her office targeted several federal monuments to “remove, relocate, or contextualize.”

“My first thought is that no one — no one — will be removing or renaming the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial,” Bernhardt told host Martha MacCallum. “None of that is going to happen. It’s just simply nutty.”

The list includes monuments and buildings named after historic figures like former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson. The list also includes Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and George Mason, inventor Alexander Graham Bell and “Star-Spangled Banner” composer Francis Scott Key.

DC COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS CHANGES TO WASHINGTON MONUMENT, JEFFERSON MEMORIAL, OTHER HISTORICAL ASSETS

Taking the example of the Jefferson Memorial, Bernhardt told MacCallum that no one is calling Jefferson or anyone else a “perfect human being,” but “the Jefferson Memorial specifically was advocated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was really the primary driver behind the creation of that wonderful memorial.

“And as you walk into it and you see the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and other great things, I think that gives you a great sense of what American exceptionalism is about,” he added.

Bernhardt also took issue Wednesday with Bowser’s claim that the federal prosecutor’s office in the District is not being tough enough when it comes to bringing charges against left-wing activists who have been arrested for allegedly committing violence during protests.

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“They [the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office] responded to that letter with a pretty strong letter of their own, which lays out that they’ve been prosecuting folks pretty religiously,” he said. “And I will tell you this, we have our own officers [at the Interior Department] that have dealt with these matters and the U.S. Department of Justice is giving us a lot of support.

“So the bottom line is, if you commit a crime at Interior-managed properties, we’re going to investigate that crime, we are going to prosecute that crime, and if you are convicted, you’re going to go away for a long time for that crime.”

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