British Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed a new agreement with her Albanian counterpart, Bledi Cuci, regarding the removal of Albanian nationals from the UK.
Patel visited Albania for two days and met with officials from the Ministry of the Interior.
The new agreement will see the removal of Albanian nationals who have no right to reside in the UK. According to a British government statement, the agreement will strengthen existing arrangements. Under the new rules, foreign national offenders, those who have overstayed their visas, and failed asylum seekers will be returned.
In UK prisons, Albanians make up the largest number of foreign nationals at 16%. Patel has now accelerated the removal of these individuals and others following the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Since April, some 254 Albanian criminals and 85 Albanian nationals have been sent home.
“I am determined to fix our immigration system, clamp down on illegal entry, and remove those with no right to be in the UK as swiftly as possible.
Our New Plan for Immigration, coupled with this new agreement, will speed up the removal of Albanian nationals who have committed crimes in the UK and overstayed their welcome.
I make no apology for removing dangerous foreign criminals to protect the British people and, so far this year, more than 1,000 foreign criminals have been deported, with more being removed every single week.”
During her visit to Albania, the Home Secretary also met Prime Minister Edi Rama where she welcomed the continued cooperation between the UK and Albania in tackling serious organized crime in the region. They also reaffirmed their shared commitment to cracking down on Western Balkan-based organized crime groups involved in drugs trafficking, illicit finance, and organized immigration crime to the UK.
Patel also said it will be harder for people to claim asylum, particularly those crossing the Channel via boat. The UK government also plans to criminalize those who assist others in reaching the UK to apply for asylum or refugee status.
Patel’s bill seems to have partially stalled, however. The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it will not prosecute migrants for attempting to enter the UK. They said that those not involved in criminal activity but have entered illegally will not be prosecuted.