British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that his administration has achieved advancements in curbing immigration to the UK.
He highlighted the decrease in the number of people arriving without permission and in the backlog of asylum cases.
The announcement by Sunak coincided with the release of Home Office data on Monday (1 January), which indicated a 36 per cent decrease in the number of migrants making the journey across the English Channel in small boats last year. This represents the first reduction observed in at least five years.
The government also managed to decrease the backlog of asylum cases, making decisions on 112,000 cases and deporting 24,000 individuals.
"I am determined to end the burden of illegal migration on the British people," Sunak said.
"We are saving the taxpayer millions of pounds in expensive hotel costs, reducing the strain on public services," he added.
The commitments made by Sunak to halt the influx of boats and resolve the backlog of asylum cases will be significant factors in the upcoming 2024 election.
The backlog of cases has been a financial burden on taxpayers, costing around £8 million ($10.2 million) daily for accommodations such as hotels, detention centers, and even a barge for individuals awaiting resolution.
However, the progress hailed by Sunak could be fleeting.
A representative from the Immigration Services Union has cautioned that "higher numbers" of immigrants are expected in 2024. This is because the crossings of the previous year were probably impacted by the severe winds over the Channel in December. Arrivals have been reported since mid-month.
Overall, data from the Home Office indicated that over 29,400 individuals reached the UK via small boats last year, a decrease from the peak of over 45,700 in 2022.
Sunak is facing criticism from his fellow Conservative Party members for permitting a surge in migration through both legal and unconventional pathways into the country.
In the 2016 decision to exit the European Union, the Conservatives placed a significant emphasis on gaining control over the UK border.
A major promise during their 2019 election campaign was to decrease net migration.
However, contrary to this, it escalated to an unprecedented 745,000 the following year, with the majority arriving through lawful means.
The government views addressing the backlog of asylum cases and deporting arrivals to Rwanda as crucial steps in diminishing the UK's attractiveness to migrants.
"While illegal entries across Europe are going up, the number of people coming into the UK illegally is going down," Home Secretary James Cleverly said.
"This is a significant achievement, but the job is far from over," he added.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
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