The Liberal Democrats vowed to repeal the Illegal Migration Act as the party kicked off its autumn conference on Saturday.
Moving the motion at the conference in Bournemouth, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said the act will be scrapped "in full," with "no caveats, no excuses, no cowardly backtracking" on "day one of a Liberal Democrat administration."
He asserted there is "no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker" and said the party will establish "safe and legal routes" so people who want to seek asylum in the UK don't need to be smuggled in.
The UK's geographical location means most, if not all illegal entrants, would have passed through countries that are deemed safe, including France, from where many embark a dangerous journey across the English Channel on small boats.
Illegal Migration Act, which became law on July 20, bans anyone from making asylum claims if they enter the UK via unregulated routes.
It also requires the home secretary to cap the overall number of asylum seekers who can enter the UK via "safe and legal routes."
According to estimates of charity the Refugee Council, the new inadmissibility rule means around 225,000 to 257,000 asylum claims will be deemed inadmissible in the first three years of the legislation coming into effect.
The Conservative government has argued stricter asylum laws will deter people from paying smuggling gangs for a seat on a boat.
But Mr. Farron labelled the Illegal Migration Act as "wretched" and a "willful choice to put more power in the hands of evil people smugglers."
The Liberal Democrats motion, backed by the conference, said the party plans to set up more "safe and legal routes" for asylum seekers to the UK and will "ensure that all legislation is compatible with the UK's international law obligations, including the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings."
The proposals also include taking the power of identifying modern slavery victims from the Home Office and giving it to local safeguarding agencies, filling the vacant role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and giving Parliament the power to fill the role if future governments leave it vacant for more than three months.
The party wants to boost the prosecution of traffickers by giving resources to the criminal justice system, including providing legal aid to victims.
It also wants to allow alleged modern slavery victims to work while they wait for decisions on their asylum applications and improve training for first responders to support alleged victims of modern slavery.
The Liberal Democrats also propose to reform policies regarding migrant workers, by replacing the salary threshold for work visas with "a more flexible merit-based system, making employers and employees less reliant on temporary visas," and setting up a watchdog to "protect people in precarious work."
Around 310,000 of these people had come to the UK, the Home Office said.
Before these ad-hoc programmes were introduced, the Home Office said it had granted 44,659 family reunions between 2015 and 2022.
Asylum seekers can't choose to claim asylum in the UK from overseas.
Early Education and EUDuring the first day of the Liberal Democrats party conference, the party also promised to double the parental leave payment "so that new parents don’t have to rush back to work if they don’t want to, extending it to cover the first full year of a child’s life."
Education spokeswoman Munira Wilson also called on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to “raise your ambitions for once” and commit to scrapping the two-child benefit cap.
Speaking to 5 News before the conference, Liberal Democrats party leader Sir Ed Davey said he is not interested in a pre-election pact with Labour to oust Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Nor is being a member of the EU, which the party put at the heart of their last general election campaign, on the table any longer, he told the BBC.
“We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we’re also realistic that’s going to take some time,” he said.
Instead, the party is focusing on local issues, hoping to build on four by-election successes in the past two years and gains in traditionally Tory seats during the May local elections.
Proposals relating to health, the environment, and the cost of living will feature prominently, including a pledge to keep the triple lock—which neither the Tories nor Labour have committed to retaining long term.