The United Kingdom (UK) is expected to sign a deal to send male asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in small boats to Rwanda while their claims are processed in the UK.
According to a report by the Times Newspaper, Home Secretary, Priti Patel, will sign the 120-million-pound ($158m) agreement for a “migration and economic development partnership” in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital on Thursday, April 14, 2022, adding that the cost would be funded by UK taxpayers. However, there is no immediate response from Rwanda.
Crossing the Channel in small boats will also be made a crime, and those who are allowed to stay will have to live in strictly-controlled camp-like environments while their cases are considered, the Newspaper added.
An Attempt to Redirect Attention
According to No.10 Downing Street, Mr. Johnson is expected to announce on Wednesday, April 14, 2022, the“long-term plan for asylum”.
No.10 noted that “Before Christmas 27 people drowned, and in the weeks ahead there may be many more losing their lives at sea, and whose bodies may never be recovered. Around 600 came across the Channel yesterday. In just a few weeks this could again reach a thousand a day.”
But critics have countered that Mr. Johnson is trying to divert attention from his own behaviour amid calls for his resignation over the repeated lockdown breaches. Labour said the plan is “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”. The Liberal Democrats said the proposal would be “expensive for taxpayers, while doing nothing to stop dangerous Channel crossings or combat the smuggling and trafficking gangs”.
About the Deal
The deal is expected to see Rwanda, which is part of the Commonwealth, given an initial £120m as part of a trial, but opponents said the annual cost of the full scheme would be far higher. In a speech in Kent, Mr. Johnson is expected to argue that action is needed to stop “vile people smugglers” turning the ocean into a “watery graveyard”.
Last year (2021), more than 28,000 people crossed the English Channel from Europe to the UK, many in small ships, up from over 8,000 in 2020. Around 600 people made the crossing on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, and Mr. Johnson said the figure could reach 1,000 a day within weeks.
“We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not.”
An Incoming Announcement
The Prime Minister will announce plans to hand operational control of the Channel to the UK Navy, break the business model of people-smuggling gangs, and deter people from risking the crossing.
Report suggested that the Prime Minister will defend the measures, adding that they are part of the Government’s long-term plans to “take back control of illegal immigration” after Brexit.
While the number of people crossing the Channel in boats increased, last year saw fewer people using other routes, such as by lorry, in part because of increased security at the Port of Calais.
Opposition in Parliament
The UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill includes a provision to create offshore immigration processing centres for asylum seekers.
The bill is making its way through Parliament, but with the parliamentary session expected to end within weeks, time is running out to pass it into law.
MPs are currently on a break, but when they return, they are due to review a series of amendments, including one about powers to offshore asylum claims. The Government suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords over the bill, which brought criticism and sparked protests.