Digitizing the Border: the UK and Post COVID-19 Immigration

Digitizing the Border: the UK and Post COVID-19 Immigration

Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, is pushing for a digitalized visa system similar to the United States. Her response comes after intense criticism over her asylum reforms. So, why are the UK’s digitalization efforts significant, and what should American immigrants take from this?

Immigration in the UK

The plan for immigration in the UK is simple: digitalize. Secretary Patel isn’t the only one pushing for U.S.-style digitalization, but her plan will call for all immigrants coming to the UK to obtain an electronic travel authorization.

The purpose of a digital system is to correct discrepancies in migration data. For example, officials estimated that 3 million migrants would apply for settlement, but more than 5.4 million migrants submitted their applications.

Patel says, “Our new fully digital border will provide the ability to count people in and out of the country, giving us control over who comes to the UK.”

Secretary Patel has also made her plans for asylum very clear. She will use the digitalized system to crack down on smugglers – an effort she has already put into practice. Patel accompanied the police to arrest alleged migrant smugglers. Her asylum reforms would drastically diminish the number of asylees allowed into the UK each year. In fact, her plan would also include mass deportation as a way to curb immigration.

Many organizations and lawmakers have voiced criticism of Patel’s immigration goals. Several EU countries have made it clear that they will not facilitate the deportation of refugees from the UK.

What Does This Have to do With the U.S.?

Secretary Patel’s reforms are not new, and they sound familiar to those of us across the pond. Former President Trump’s immigration policies could be summed up in two words: eradication and containment.

The American Immigration system relies on collecting data digitally to process and approve/reject immigration applications. In some ways, the digitalization of our immigration system allowed the former President to enact harsh immigration policies. For example, collection of biometric data sometimes lends itself to racial profiling and eventual deportation.

Immigrants in America with loved ones in the UK may be justifiably concerned about where their family will go. In recent years, many countries have been in upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and a host of other complex humanitarian issues. If they cannot find safe harbor in the UK or the EU, for that matter, where can they go?

What Can I Do to Help?

The good news is that in the U.S., advocates, immigration attorneys, and other groups exist to help families pursue a new life through immigration. If your loved ones desperately need refuge, you have options.

Family-sponsored immigration, employment visas, and other immigration benefits can help your loved ones find security and support in the United States. Always consult an attorney before attempting to file immigration documents.

For more information about immigration, status, or asylum, contact Lim Law, P.A. today.

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