James Grundy MP: working to bring immigration to the UK under control
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There has been progress, however, made on tackling illegal migration via small boats in the Channel with the number of Albanians seeking to use this route falling from 15,000 last year to just 29 in the first quarter of this year after the government put in place stronger measures with the support of the Albanian government.
It is true to say that the Balkan organised crime gangs that facilitate this modern slave trade across the Channel are still a significant problem with Afghans trafficked across from France now making up the largest component of small-boat based illegal immigration representing almost a quarter of the nearly 4,000 people arriving via that route in the first three months of this year.
It is pleasing to see that immigration from the EU has stabilised, however, with slightly fewer EU citizens arriving in the country than left over the last year, meaning that we have achieved our objectives regarding that particular component of migration. Immigration from EU countries now largely comprises of a much smaller number of high-skilled, high-wage and highly mobile professionals, which is a model we hope to scale up for the entire UK immigration system as a whole.
It has been widely noted that over the last year there has been a significant increase in non-EU migration, largely driven by students studying at UK universities bringing over family members, which has contributed significantly to the overall migration figures.
I am pleased to say that the government is now acting to close this loophole which has been used as a legitimate but unintended ‘back-door’ to bring much larger numbers of people to the UK than expected.
Last year was the first post-Covid year where the UK was operating under our new Australian style point-based system so it has been interesting to see which parts of that system are working well and which aren’t after decades of effectively having very limited control over our own immigration policy.