The government's new Illegal Migration Bill has caused controversy since it was announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak - now Havering's MPs and a refugee campaigner have had their say.

Mr Sunak revealed the policy on March 7 to make it harder for people coming via unofficial routes to seek asylum and remain in the UK.   

In 2022, about 45,755 people were said to have crossed the channel to enter the country via boats, many of whom claimed asylum as per Home Office data.

Under its plans, the government said those "who arrive in the UK illegally will instead be detained and swiftly removed to their home country if safe, or another safe third country, such as Rwanda, where they will be supported to rebuild their lives".

Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, hailed the bill and said: “For far too long has illegal immigration been undermining the integrity and unity of our United Kingdom."

Julia Lopez, Tory MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, said that the issue of the channel crossings was something her constituents tell her they are most concerned about.

She continued: “They worry about security, and the pressure that can follow on local accommodation and public services from the large number of people coming to the UK via this route."

But how many of these asylum seekers actually end up in Havering?

Data shared by the House of Commons reveals that, as of December 2022, the number of asylum seekers supported by Havering Council were eight out of every 10,000 population in 2021. It stood tenth on the list out of all the London boroughs, with Southwark being the lead.

There were zero number of refugees per 10,000 population resettled in Havering cumulatively between January 2014 and December 2022, as per the House of Commons data.

There is a still a huge backlog of asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application.

There were still 166,261 applications in the UK pipeline overall as of December 2022.

Out of these, 346 people are claiming asylum in Havering - up from 246 a year before.

Some opposition MPs and migration activists have criticised the bill.

A spokesperson for Labour MP Jon Cruddas, who represents Dagenham and Rainham, said in a statement that the government's new bill "will continue to do very little by way of resolving the issues at play".  

He shared some solutions Labour are suggesting to address the issue, including a new cross border police unit to target criminal gangs, creating a fast-track system to end hotel use and calling in a greater global effort to address humanitarian crises.

Nick Beales, head of campaigning at the Refugee & Migrant Forum of Essex and London, told the Recorder that the bill will do little to prevent refugees from taking dangerous journeys to reach the UK.

He said: “The government’s big problem is that its sole focus is on so-called deterrent measures, even though these have repeatedly been shown not to work when people are faced with life and death decisions."

Mr Beales said its focus should be "creating actual safe routes to get to the UK”.

This, he said, could be done by creating a humanitarian visa that can be applied for from overseas and expanding the refugee family reunion routes.

He believed that the government needed to focus on clearing the asylum backlog by granting refugee status to those from countries that have 98 per cent success rates in their claims. Granting refugees the right to work while their claim is pending could help too, he believed.

The government's bill will now proceed through parliament.