The comments came as the BBC reported that the Home Office estimates it will have to spend between £3billion and £6billion on detention facilities, housing costs and deportations as part of Rishi Sunak’s plans to tackle small boat crossings.
Mr Jenrick said great progress had been made but the asylum system needed “fundamental” changes.
According to refugee aid organizations, around 170,000 people are still waiting to be cleared.
CONTINUE READING: UK net immigration hits record high
The minister told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “The asylum system is full of abuse, we have to be honest with ourselves.”
“The way to counteract this is to fundamentally change the way we deal with asylum.”
Mr Jenrick insisted the new Rwanda policy would ease the pressure.
“It will provide the deterrent we desperately need, it will destroy the business model of human smuggling gangs and it will prevent the system from coming under unbearable pressures like it is today,” he said.
The minister was asked about recent scenes at Pimlico in London, where some 40 asylum seekers were abandoned in the streets after refusing to enter a hotel and sleeping “four people per room”.
Westminster Council leader Adam Hug said the migrants were people who “are likely to have gone through significant and traumatic events” and were being asked to share “an unreasonably large room with several strangers”.
He said the agency had not received any notification that the asylum seekers were coming to the district.
Photos of the group showed sleeping bags on the street and signs reading “This is a prison, not a hotel.”
CONTINUE READING: The Scottish Government has “misrepresented” Tennent’s DRS concerns.
When asked about the incident, Mr Jenrick told the BBC: “As far as I know, what happened here is these migrants who had said themselves they were destitute, they had no place to stay, we gave them a safe bed with food and Accommodation offered.” A quality hotel in central London.
“Yes, some of them they had to share with other people. These are single adult males: I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
“We want to lower the costs for the taxpayer. Some people said that wasn’t good enough and they wanted their own bedroom with their own bathroom, and the Home Office took the perfectly reasonable view that we had the taxpayer to worry about here.
“And of course if you were really destitute you would accept that and common sense prevailed and I think almost all of the migrants concerned accepted the placement.”
He said it was “entirely fair and reasonable” to ask single adult men to share a room.
“We don’t want to use hotels at all. This deprives the local business community and society of valuable assets, you know, weddings and in-person events have had to be canceled as a result.
“But where we’re using it, it’s right that we’re getting good value for the taxpayer.”
“So if single adult males can share a room, and it’s legal, which of course depends on the size of the accommodation, then we will ask people to do that.”
“I think that’s a completely fair and reasonable approach,” he told Kuenssberg.
CONTINUE READING: Anas Sarwar said he should “make it clear” in the dispute over his aide’s wife’s preferential treatment.
When asked about David Cameron’s 2010 pledge to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000, Mr Jenrick said: “I don’t think targets like this are particularly helpful because migration is an extremely challenging area where behaviour constantly changing.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, net migration to the UK is estimated to have reached a record 606,000 in 2022, a 24% increase from 488,000 in 2021.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, responded to Mr Jenrick’s comments: “Today the Immigration Secretary falsely claimed in the media that most people arriving by boat are economic migrants and that the asylum system is ‘riddled with abuses’ The truth is that the government’s own statistics show that this is not true, as the majority of people crossing the Channel into the UK ultimately turn out to be refugees.
“In fact, three-quarters of asylum applications are granted protection at the first decision-making stage.
“Rather than rationalizing away failures in the asylum system, it is important for the Government to maintain a sustained focus on solving the problems in the UK asylum system, starting with real commitment and dedicating resources to tackling the 170,000 asylum backlog.”