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Labour Government would create returns-and-enforcement unit to remove failed asylum seekers

18 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper. Photo Maja Smiejkowska/PA Wire

Labour has set out plans for a 1,000-strong “returns-and-enforcement unit” to more swiftly remove failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the Tories of overseeing “chaos, collapsing confidence and calamitous costs” in the immigration and asylum system which she promised to overhaul.

Labour said that, if it wins the general election, a new returns-and-enforcement unit will accelerate case progression on removals and fix processing issues.

It will work to identify, shut down and punish workplaces that are illegally employing and exploiting asylum seekers and co-operate with the police on arresting traffickers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from hotels.

Officers from the unit will be posted to foreign countries to negotiate more returns agreements.

Fast-track system

The unit will be backed with a new fast-track asylum casework system for safe countries so arrivals can be processed and returned within weeks.

Labour said the team will be funded through savings made from clearing the asylum backlog and ending the use of hotels to house migrants, currently costing taxpayers £8 million a day.

Ms Cooper said: “The Conservatives have totally lost their grip on our borders and let our asylum system descend into chaos.

“Without firm, fair enforcement of the rules, the system ends up in chaos, costs soar, confidence collapses and exploitation grows.

“The 40% drop in returns of failed asylum cases since 2010 undermines the credibility of the entire system.

“That’s why Labour will set up a new returns-and-enforcement unit to speed up the system and make sure rules are respected.”


The Government hopes to deter people from arriving in the UK on small boats across the English Channel through its stalled Rwanda deportation scheme.

Parliament is currently considering the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, which seeks to compel judges to regard the east African country as safe in a bid to clear the way to send some asylum seekers on a one-way flight there.

The Commons will on Monday get a chance to debate and vote on amendments passed by the House of Lords.

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said: “Labour cannot say how they would stop the boats, because they do not have a plan.

“If they were serious about stopping the boats, they would back our Rwanda plan this week. Instead, they have voted against our tougher measures 96 times.

“Labour MPs tried to stop the deportation of dangerous foreign criminals, and they have promised to scrap our deterrent measures even once they’re up and running.

“We are sticking to our plan that is working, with Channel crossings down by over a third last year. We are also pressing ahead with our Rwanda legislation this week to deter illegal migration and stop the boats.

“Labour have promised to strike a deal with the EU to open the doors to even more illegal migrants, taking us straight back to square one.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

If Therese was the 1st of May this ones looks like being the 2nd…

29 days ago

Good old Labour. Replace useless failing Tory fascist policy with yet another fascist policy. Bring on even more bad times.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago

Right Mr Gething, lets start with the health service…

A new minister of health someone who is capable and raring to go…

Too many older and vulnerable people are paying with their lives, daily…

28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Gething doesn’t care cos his family is covered by private health insurance !

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
28 days ago

UK Labour ‘talking tough on immigration’….in other words battling the Tories for the racist and Bigot vote.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago

Is this the same Yvette Cooper who flipped her home twice making thousands in profit as reported in 2009. Yes it is. Perhaps she can offer up one of her many homes to those desperate asylum seekers fleeing murder & mayhem in the Middle East , you know, a war-torn region where New Labour led by bloodthirsty American poodle Tony Blair along with US president George W Bush who illegally invaded Iraq in 2003 claiming there were WMDs causing death & destruction, gestated the conditions for murderous ISIS to arise, resulting in thousands fleeing conflict in Iraq, Libya, Syria and… Read more »

28 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Ms Cooper has a memory that conveniently erases the bits of history that don’t fit her current agenda. Tough on her that people like you are around to give her a clear reminder of the dirty deeds of Bliar and his buddies.

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