Witham MP Priti Patel slams case of immigrant in constituency who has avoided deportation through multiple appeals

Priti Patel

Priti Patel - Credit: Matthew Usher

Major reform to the UK’s immigration system is needed to stop those without the right to remain in the country from outstaying their welcome, an Essex MP has warned.

During a debate in Parliament yesterday Witham’s Priti Patel raised a case of a Filipino woman in her constituency who had been in the UK since 2006 and had avoided deportation by lodging multiple applications and appeals.

The Conservative MP said that this undermined public confidence in the immigration system and blamed the previous administration for a failure to act, urging the government to introduce new controls.

The Immigration Bill, which started its second reading in the House of Commons, aims to reform the appeal system and close legislative gaps within the European Convention on Human Rights.

The woman from the Philippines has been in the UK since 2006, arriving on a 48-month permit to work in a care home and her husband, family and children had come over and gone to local schools, Ms Patel said.

Despite the rejection of an appeal to remain in the UK the family lodged a further application on human rights grounds in January, which was refused in June, she added.

“The case is now going on and on,” Ms Patel said. “In July, they lodged another appeal, which is still pending. If that appeal is rejected, the family may undertake another appeal and prolong the process even more. Surely that cannot be right?”.

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She also highlighted a family from Nigeria who were informed that they should leave the UK two years ago, but embarked on a series of applications and appeals.

Ms Patel said: “Such actions are all about delay and prolonging the process for people who have no right whatever to remain in the country. That undermines public confidence in the immigration system. A stop must be put to repeated applications and appeals.”

During the Westminster Hall debate Ms Patel blamed the previous government for leaving too many cases unresolved.

She also called for further reforms to remove foreign criminals, prisoners and terrorists and reforms to human rights laws.

But she said the government needed to ensure that the UK had an immigration system that “let in wealth creators, entrepreneurs and people who will make a positive contribution to this country, while preventing from coming in, and removing, those who should not be here.”

She told Parliament; “In the run-up to the last general election and during the election in 2010, it was the number one issue raised with me in my constituency—the issue on which my constituents were pressing for action. That is not surprising, because it is a rural constituency in the east of England, so it has many issues with seasonal agricultural workers and migrants coming in.

“My constituents wanted, and are eager to see, a wide range of effective reforms and policies put in place to keep our borders secure and the public safe.”

Answering the debate, immigration minister Mark Harper said: “I fundamentally believe that we should offer asylum to those who are genuinely fleeing persecution, but if the system is to work and to command public confidence, the flip side is that those who we find do not need our protection—and where an independent judge agrees that they do not need our protection—should return to their country of origin.

“We should not have to spend thousands and thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money detaining those people and enforcing their removal. Everyone who abuses our system in such a way is damaging the interests of genuine refugees, to whom I want Britain to give a warm welcome and to enable them to rebuild their lives.”