Indians now form the second-largest nationality crossing the Channel by small boat, figures have revealed.
Home Office data showed 675 Indian nationals arrived by small boat between January and March in what sources said was a surge in attempts to evade work visa restrictions.
Only 683 Indians arrived by small boat during all of last year.
A Home Office source said: ‘There’s been an unexplained spike in Indian nationals arriving here by small boat in the last few months. We believe they are attempting to dodge visa checks and are coming here to work illegally in the underground economy.’
In contrast, during the first three months of this year the number of Albanians reaching Britain by small boat fell to 29, compared with 1,100 in the previous quarter. This appeared to reflect official predictions that Albanian numbers would drop off over winter and resume this spring.
The largest group by nationality in the first quarter was Afghans, with 909. Yesterday’s figures also showed more than 80,000 cases in the asylum backlog have yet to be cleared to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge.
He said in December that 92,000 ‘legacy’ applications lodged before July last year would be ‘abolished’ by the end of this year.
However, there were still 80,148 cases in the system at the end of March – meaning an average of 4,000 per month were resolved since the PM’s commitment.
It means caseworkers will have to more than double their work rate and get through about 9,000 claims a month between April and December to ensure the pledge is fulfilled. The backlog also contains a further 56,000 cases lodged since July, making a total of 138,000 – not including dependants.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick will today deliver a speech in which he will warn that an ‘age of mass migration’ has ‘placed our public services under strain, weakened community cohesion and set back integration efforts’.
‘Those that make illegal journeys must know that it will be a futile endeavour,’ the minister will say at an event organised by the Policy Exchange think-tank.
He will describe the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill – which continues its progress through Parliament – as ‘the most significant piece of immigration legislation of modern times’.
Mr Jenrick is also due to dismiss opposition parties who back ‘open borders’ as naive. He will add: ‘These politicians grandstand and virtue-signal their supposed generosity. But there is nothing virtuous about making generous offers at the expense of others when it comes to housing supply, waiting lists and the tax burden.’
Read More: Growing numbers of Indian migrants are making the perilous Channel crossing in small boats ‘to evade work visa restrictions’