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Up to 54,000 illegal migrants are set to get new rights to live in Britain after a key part of Priti Patel's flagship immigration law was dropped.

The move was announced yesterday by Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick in a bid to slash the asylum backlog.

Under the change, illegal migrants will have the same rights as those who came to the UK legally.

They will be allowed to remain in the UK for five years, rather than 30 months, if their asylum claims are successful and be able to apply to settle in Britain.

It abandons the two-tier system introduced by Boris Johnson and then home secretary Ms Patel in the Nationality and Border Act, which was aimed at deterring people from making the journey across the Channel in small boats.

In a written statement, Mr Jenrick said the differentiation policy was previously the "right approach" but since then the "scale of the challenge... has grown". 

He said: "That is why the Government introduced the Illegal Migration Bill.

"The Bill goes further than ever before in seeking to deter illegal entry to the UK, so that the only humanitarian route into the UK is through a safe and legal one.

"The Bill will radically overhaul how we deal with people who arrive in the UK illegally via safe countries, rendering their asylum and human rights claims (in respect of their home country) inadmissible and imposing a duty on the Home Secretary to remove them.

"This approach represents a considerably stronger means of tackling the same issue that the differentiation policy sought to address: people making dangerous and unnecessary journeys through safe countries to claim asylum in the UK."

The changes are expected to apply to 54,000 migrants who were in the queue from June 2022 to March 2023.

But a senior Tory told The Telegraph: "Losing the differentiation aspect between those who come through safe routes and those who do not look like getting a grip of the system.

"And the fast-tracking of applications looks like a de facto amnesty."

It comes as the Illegal Migration Bill - a key part of the Prime Minister's bid to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats - is currently going through Parliament.

The flagship legislation aims to ensure those who arrive in the UK without permission will be detained and promptly removed, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.

The Bill has cleared the Commons but is facing stiff opposition in the House of Lords. Story by Katie Harris, Daily Express

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