The first group of illegal migrants will be told this week that they could be sent to Rwanda under the government’s controversial new immigration plans.
Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an agreement in the capital Kigali in April for some asylum seekers who have arrived in the UK illegally since January to be resettled in this East African country.
Now, the first people are informed of the government’s intention to resettle them under the new partnership for migration and economic development, where their applications will be processed in Rwandaalthough it is not known when they will be put on the flights.
If successful, they will be granted asylum or refugee status in the country. Those whose offers have failed will be offered the option of applying for visas under other immigration routes if they wish to remain in Rwanda, but could still be deported.
Migrants who have crossed the Channel are among those who will receive notices and the government says it has the power to detain individuals pending deportation from the UK.
Rwanda’s controversial policy is facing a number of legal challenges by charities who question its legality.
Several “pre-action” letters – which pave the way for a legal challenge – have been sent to the Home Office.
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Activists are calling on the government to reveal the criteria for determining who is at risk of being sent to Africa and they want to know on what basis Rwanda has been deemed a “safe” country.
Previously, the prime minister reportedly said he wanted to see the first flights take off by the end of May, but officials are still unable to say when the deportations might start and how many people the government is initially looking to deport.
Boris Johnson has said tens of thousands of asylum seekers could end up being sent.
Ms Patel said: “The UK asylum system is broken as criminals exploit and smuggle people into our country at huge cost to UK taxpayers.
“The leading migration partnership with Rwanda means that those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK can be relocated to Rwanda to have their asylum claims considered and to rebuild their lives there. – helping to break the smugglers’ business model and prevent the loss of life.”
She added: “This is only the first step in the process and we know it will take time as some will seek to thwart the process and delay removals. I will not be deterred from taking action to make the changes that the British people have voted to take back control of our money, our laws and our borders.”
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The Home Secretary admitted he “will take time” to deal with the legal challenges that are pending.
Signing the deal last month, Ms Patel said the ‘nasty’ smugglers and their criminal gangs were helping people into Europe, resulting in ‘loss of life and huge cost to the British taxpayer’.
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“The tragic loss of life in the English Channel and the Mediterranean at the hands of these evil smugglers must stop,” she said.
“We have agreed that people who enter the UK illegally will be considered for relocation to Rwanda to have their asylum claim decided.
“And those who are resettled will receive support, including up to five years of training to help with integration, housing and healthcare, so they can resettle and thrive.”
At least 7,739 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel this year so far, according to analysis of government figures by the PA news agency.
This is more than three times the amount that had arrived in the same period in 2021 (2,439).
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