Passing through immigration control on my return to the UK yesterday, my wife had to restrain me from taking a photograph of one of the notices that appeared on the UK visual displays at Heathrow. She wanted to get home sooner rather than later and, on reflection, I wasn’t in the mood for trouble. The powers of Immigration Officers to stop, search and generally inconvenience are really quite extensive.
However, I did make a careful note, that I think is accurate (I had plenty of time on my hands in the queue):
It is against the law to provide support to asylum seekers who delay their claim without good reason.
If you intend to claim asylum you must do so at this airport.
As far as I am aware, neither of those two propositions is at all correct, even in simplified form.
It is against the law to help an asylum seeker enter the UK if done knowingly and for gain, with certain exceptions (section 25A of the Immigration Act 1971). I’ve no idea where the suggestion of support comes from, though. It is certainly not necessary to claim asylum on arrival, as intimated by the use of the word ‘must’. It is perfectly possible to make a claim from inside the UK after arrival.
Are these statements as misleading as I think they are or can someone point out a law I’ve missed? If so, why are they being used?
I’ve seen from emails and comments that a lot has happened in the last three weeks (the UKBA Zambrano guidance is finally out and there was a major speech by the immigration minister, for example) so I’ll do some catching up with the most important updates and developments over the next few days, I hope.