UK Finally Passes Rwanda Migrant Removal Bill, But No Guarantee Illegal Migrants Will Actually Be Removed

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts a press conference inside the Downing Street Br
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In the wake of nearly two years of legal challenges and parliamentary wrangling, the UK government finally passed late Monday evening its chief illegal migrant deterrence bill, which will theoretically see illegal boat migrants removed from Britain to the East African nation of Rwanda, however, actually getting illegals on flights is still by no means a certainty.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he expects migrant removal flights to begin sometime in late June or early July after the House of Lords finally passed the Safety of Rwanda bill, the plan for which was initially introduced by Boris Johnson in 2022 — two Conservative governments ago for those keeping score — before the scheme was thrown into chaos by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stepping in at the last minute to block a removal flight to Kigali.

The new law will only apply to those migrants who entered the UK illegally from another safe country before claiming asylum, meaning that it will mostly apply to migrants who cross the English Channel in people smuggler-operated boats launched from the beaches of France, or those smuggled on ferries inside lorries. According to calculations from the BBC, this will currently apply to around 52,000 foreigners, most of whom have been put up in hotels across Britain at taxpayer expense.

In principle, the legislation would see the migrants removed on flights to Rwanda, where they would stay while their asylum claims to gain residence in the United Kingdom are processed. Those who don’t have their claims recognised “will instead be granted permanent residence so that they are able to stay and integrate into Rwandan society”. However, despite objections from former immigration minister Robert Jenrick and ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the bill still allows illegal migrants to launch legal challenges in Britain before they are removed.

Under the bill, migrants will be given at least one week’s notice that they may be tapped for removal and if selected will be given a further five days to prepare. During this time, the migrants will be allowed to petition a judge to impose an injunction to block the removal flight. If British judges refuse to grant such an order, migrants can still apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), critics say.

Despite leaving the European Union in 2020, Britain is still a member of the ECHR given that it is technically a separate institution from the EU — even though it shares the same campus in Strasbourg as well as the same flag and anthem as the bloc — and therefore the UK’s membership was unaffected by Brexit. Immigration hardliners have called for the government to exit from the agreement after judges in Strasbourg stepped in to block the first scheduled migrant removal flight to Rwanda in June of 2022.

The legislation grants government ministers new powers to ignore orders from the ECHR and has “disapplied” some parts of the Human Rights Act 1998, however, this has yet to be tested in court. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier this month that he would consider breaking off from the ECHR if it meddled in Britain’s immigration policies again, but it is unclear if he has the backing of his own government to do so, with rumours swirling around Westminster that the globalist wing of his cabinet would rebel against Sunak if he attempted to leave the European court.

In addition to potential further interventions from Strasbourg, there may still be legal battles to be had in Britain. The Safety of Rwanda bill passed on Monday demands that UK courts treat Rwanda as a “safe country” to which migrants can be removed. However, last year the Supreme Court — a novel creation of reforms introduced by Tony Blair — argued that Rwanda was not a safe country and that migrants would be at risk of being deported again by Kigali.

Failing all that, the scheme still faces issues of practicality, with the Home Office having a woeful record of actually deporting migrants, with just 5,000 being removed from the country last year. Even if the government were to match its peak of 15,o0o deportations in 2012, it would still take at least three years to remove the illegals currently known to be in the UK, not to mention the thousands that continue to pour over the English Channel every month.

Finally, it is still unclear if the scheme — if actually implemented — will fulfil its intended purpose of acting as a deterrence for prospective illegal migrants, with migrants in camps along the French coast vowing that they will keep attempting to reach Britain even if they are sent to Rwanda.

“Maybe when I will go to Rwanda again – it’s difficult. I will come again. I will keep on, the struggle,” a migrant told BBC Breakfast from a camp in Dunkirk. Other such deterrents have worked in the past, however, with the government pointing to the Albania deal and Australia’s successful stop the boats policy.

Critics of the government, such as Reform UK populist leader Richard Tice, have long argued that the only deterrence policy that would work is to immediately push back every migrant boat to France, Australia-style. Successive Conservative governments have refrained from adopting such a staunch policy for fear of violating international maritime laws.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage expressed his credulity towards the legislation on Monday, saying: “Do I believe that in ten to 12 weeks there will be planes taking off with significant numbers of migrants onboard? No, I don’t… I promise you, not a single person is going to Rwanda. This is a complete charade. And the tougher he [Sunak] talks, the more he raises the rhetoric, the more public disappointment there will be.”

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