The rise of right-wing parties opposed to immigration and globalization, and growing public sentiment against bringing in more newcomers, have resulted in policies that make it difficult to enter Britain and even harder to secure asylum status once in the door.

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SHEFFIELD, England — It may be the dreamed-of destination for many migrants in the wave now traveling through Europe, but Britain remains among the stingiest of European countries when it comes to responding to asylum seekers. And like a number of other nations intent on making themselves less attractive, it is planning new measures to deter the flow of people determined to come here.

Yet even British policy has been altered in recent days to make room for more refugees, reflecting the intense crosscurrents of the European debate over how to balance humanitarian response with an array of forces on the other side, from domestic politics and budget concerns to nationalism and race.

Pressured by public outrage over the photographs of a drowned Syrian boy on a Turkish beach, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Monday to take in 20,000 more refugees from Syria over five years — a commitment that was described as a “very slim response” by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, especially as France promised to accept 24,000 during the next two years and Germany talked of taking 500,000 a year.

But Cameron’s Conservative government remains under intense pressure to further restrict immigration, against the backdrop of a fight over whether Britain should remain in the European Union, whose stated commitment to the free flow of people has long been at odds with Britain’s desire to tightly control its own borders.

The rise of right-wing parties opposed to immigration and globalization, and growing public sentiment against bringing in more newcomers, have resulted in policies that make it difficult to enter Britain and even harder to secure asylum status once in the door.

Many newcomers encounter meager benefits, stringent living conditions, long waits for processing and a hard-line stance on what justifies asylum.

“Britain has probably become one of the harshest countries for asylum seekers in Europe if we think in terms of criteria like access to territory, refugee recognition rates, the administrative process, available benefits and conditions of detention and removal,” said Alexander Betts, director of the Refugee Studies Center at Oxford University.

Still, the government plans more restrictive measures this autumn in a new immigration bill aimed at further deterring future migrants. Proposals include cutting benefits for asylum seekers, who now live on the equivalent of about $8 a day. Immigrants found to be working illegally would face six months in prison, and asylum seekers could be immediately deported. Companies hiring them would also be punished.

Britain has also decided not to adopt new EU directives on the reception and protection of asylum seekers, which impose time limits on detention and grant them access to jobs.

The high bar for securing asylum has come as a shock to some, like Huruy, 29, a former soldier from Eritrea, who is appealing his denial.

“I was angry,” he said at a center to aid asylum seekers in Sheffield, where he has been living while he presses his appeal.

A thin man with a deep crescent-shaped scar between his eyebrows, his cheeks scarred from the sun, Huruy said he was repeatedly warned of the dangers he would face fleeing to Britain: Eritrean border guards would kill him, Sudanese Bedouins would attack him, smugglers would steal his money and leave him to die in the Sahara.

If he made it that far, Islamic State extremists in Libya would “chop his head off like a chicken,” or he would drown in the Mediterranean like hundreds of others.

He managed to survive those hazards across five countries, one desert and two seas, and was lucky enough to be rescued after the Europe-bound cargo ship that carried him in December capsized, drowning those who had not already died of suffocation.

But he was not prepared to be refused asylum by Britain, the country where he sought refuge, he said.

He said he pleaded with the officers who found him hidden in the back of a truck entering Britain through the Channel Tunnel that he was not an economic migrant, and that Eritrea, one of the world’s most secretive and repressive countries, was far from safe.

“I’ve just escaped from a very, very difficult situation,” said Huruy, who, like others interviewed, uses an alias because he fears deportation, though asylum seekers are allowed to stay while their cases are under appeal.

He has hardly landed in comfortable circumstances as he has pursued his case. He walked an hour to the asylum aid center because he could not afford the bus fare, and lives in asylum housing outside Sheffield, along with migrants from Afghanistan and Iraq.

He wants to work but cannot under British rules that discourage newcomers arriving merely for jobs. “I don’t know what to do,” he said of his free time.

The idea that asylum seekers “are sitting in refugee camps with a calculator in their hands, working out the benefits they’ll get if they choose to go to one destination rather than another is far-fetched,” Betts said.

Yet according to a recent poll published by the BBC, a majority of the public were in favor of Britain taking in fewer refugees, or at least maintaining current acceptance rates.

In 2014, Britain granted refugee status to 14,605 applicants, fewer than a third of the number granted by Germany and half of that by Sweden, according to Eurostat, the EU statistics agency. France and Italy each granted refugee status to around 20,630 asylum seekers.

Taking size into account, Sweden accepted 3,424 asylum seekers per 1 million of its population, compared to 218 for Britain, which puts Britain in 14th place among EU countries when measured this way.

Asked for comment, a Home Office spokesman said: “The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need our protection.” A person not found to need protection, he said, speaking under regular rules of anonymity, would be expected to leave voluntarily. “Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”

Benefits and processing of asylum seekers also vary widely among the 28 EU countries, said Minos Mouzourakis of the Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

According to data compiled by the group, single adult asylum seekers in Britain receive about $240 a month, while Germany provides $395, although that number is to be reduced later this year as part of changes to the law pushed by conservatives. France provides $385 and Belgium $309. In Sweden, an adult asylum seeker receives $252 a month but can also seek work.

In Britain, asylum seekers face immediate deportation if they seek work, to ensure migrants do not arrive for economic reasons, the Home Office said. In Germany and Austria, asylum seekers must wait three months before seeking employment, while in France, they can get temporary work permits.

Britain is the only EU country where asylum seekers can be detained for an unlimited period while their applications are processed, Mouzourakis said. According to Home Office statistics, 40 percent of asylum seekers spend more than a month in detention.

Britain detains more asylum seekers than most European countries — around 30,000 in 2013, and 3,000 at any one time, according to the Migration Observatory, a research organization affiliated with Oxford University.

Private contractors run seven of Britain’s 11 immigration detention centers, where migrants are under lock and key. In Germany, there are no special detention centers for asylum seekers, while France does not detain anyone for the purpose of examining a claim and limits detention to 45 days. Detention is not widespread in Sweden, but it has been used more in recent months, reflecting the pressure from an unprecedented number of arrivals and from gathering right-wing resistance.

Advocates for asylum seekers in Britain said the system is a challenge. Migrants file asylum claims in Croydon, near central London, and are typically detained in immigration removal centers while their right to entry is assessed. Some migrants are given housing, generally in the north, in towns like Sheffield.

Huruy and another Eritrean, Daniel, 23, live with others from Afghanistan and Iraq, each on his $8 a day.

Isaac, 52, from Nigeria, said he saved for seven weeks to buy a shirt. “The whole asylum system is set up to make you so frustrated and so angry that you give up and you want to leave,” he said.