140,000 Asylum Seekers Await Their Fate: How the UK Government Seeks to Legitimize the Deportation Plan

Murad Jandali | a year ago




British media reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is ready to withdraw from an international human rights treaty in a bid to curb irregular immigration.

It comes amid news of government efforts to pass a law that would mean that people who arrive in the UK illegally will not be able to claim asylum.

This is not the first time that Sunak has given the Home Office an ambitious goal regarding the immigration file, as he previously stated in December that he would end the backlog of asylum applications by the end of 2023.

It is noteworthy that the UK has a large backlog of asylum applications, with more than 140,000 people awaiting a preliminary decision.

According to the British National Statistics Office, in November 2022, the UK recorded the entry of 504,000 immigrants between June 2021 and June 2022, an increase of 331,000 immigrants from what it counted in 2021. 39% of immigrants arrived on a student visa, and 21% on a work visa.

In addition to the numbers of illegal immigrants, the office estimates the number of those who crossed the English Channel illegally at 45,756 immigrants, compared to 28,526 immigrants in 2021.

Following the publication of those statistics, Home Secretary Suella Braverman admitted that the British government had failed to control the border.


Radical Legislation

The Times newspaper revealed that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and British Home Secretary Suella Braverman are currently finalizing plans for the most draconian immigration legislation in British history, which is expected to be announced in the coming period.

The newspaper said in a report on February 3, 2023, that the Home Office has developed two options to achieve the prime minister’s goal, which is to prevent people who arrive in Britain illegally from automatically seeking asylum.

The most radical proposal would take the unprecedented step of stripping illegal immigrants of the right to appeal against their automatic exclusion from the asylum system, and a second proposal is under consideration, which would only allow them to file an appeal after they have been deported.

At present, asylum seekers are entitled to stay in the country for their case to be heard, while critics of the appeals said they would start solving problems from day one.

The proposal would prevent immigrants arriving irregularly from using parts of the human rights law to avoid deportation, such as claiming their right to family life or the right to liberty.

However, a report from the Refugee Council this week warned that, based on last year’s crossings, it would cost nearly £1 billion a year to detain everyone who arrives.

Home Office lawyers have also warned that this would simply result in everyone being subjected to judicial review, alleging breaches of Britain’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.

So the Home Secretary drafted the two proposals to avoid this scenario, which would hinder the courts.

The new British government plans come after warnings of the entry of 65,000 irregular immigrants into the country during the current year 2023, according to Bloomberg Agency.

The Times confirmed that Sunak and Braverman are ready to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if the European Court of Human Rights rules that the new British legislation is illegal.

The newspaper quoted sources close to Sunak that he was clear when he presented legislation that fulfills Britain’s international obligations and that it will be within the framework of international law.

Threatening to withdraw from the agreement would form a sharp dividing line between the British Conservative parties led by Sunak and the British opposition Labour party led by Keir Starmer; This confirms the Prime Minister’s hardline position on the immigration file.

Sunak, who is a supporter of any law that reduces the number of immigrants to the country and a hardliner on the issue of receiving refugees, has pledged to fix the broken asylum systems in the UK.

The Indian-born politician also announced a crackdown on illegal boat crossings from France before winning the Conservative Party leadership last year.

During his leadership of the Treasury, which is the second most important ministry, Sunak gave a lot of funding to all efforts to prevent the arrival of immigrants and asylum seekers across the English Channel.

Official estimates indicate that irregular immigration rates to the UK may increase by 50% this year compared to 2022, noting that the reason behind this rise is the large numbers of people seeking to move from Central Asia to Europe via Turkiye.


Detention and Deportation

In the same context, The Guardian newspaper published an article written by Jessica Elgot and Rajeev Syal entitled Rishi Sunak says people arriving in UK illegally are deported ‘within days.

The article begins by noting the Prime Minister’s statement that the new laws mean that people who come to the UK without proper documentation will be detained and then deported to their home country or to a safe third country, such as Rwanda.

On the occasion of his 100th day as prime minister, Sunak said he was committed to the policy of deportation to Rwanda, despite the legal challenges, and when asked about going ahead with that, he answered yes.

Sunak noted, in an interview with TalkTV on February 2, 2023, that asylum applications will be considered within days or weeks, not months or years.

Sunak indicated that there is a new agreement with the French government to conduct additional patrols to monitor boats crossing the English Channel, as well as negotiating an agreement with Albania, adding that Albanians make up 30% of all irregular migrants, describing this as “ridiculous.”

Sunak stressed that the main thing that the UK should do is enact new laws in Parliament to curb the illegal immigration crisis.

In another context, and according to a report published by the French newspaper Le Figaro on February 5, 2023, controlling and limiting immigration was one of the great promises made by the Conservative government in the event of Britain’s exit from the EU.

Despite the many agreements between the two sides of the English Channel (British and French) to stop the flow of illegal immigrants toward Britain, and the measures taken by the police of the two countries to control this immigration, it is still continuing, according to the report.

The report, quoting French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, said that many people go to Great Britain today because they can work there, including when they are illegal immigrants.

The report pointed to the possibility of working in England because there are job opportunities, in addition to the possibility of working without identification papers.


Bad Handling

On the British government’s handling of the immigration file, a member of the British Parliament and former leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, attacked what he considered the hate policies practiced by the Conservative government against immigrants after a visit he made to a camp in Calais, France.

In an opinion article published by The Guardian newspaper in February 2023, Corbyn said that the British government paid the French to create a hell (Calais camp) in which infectious diseases, violence, and poverty spread.

Corbyn quoted independent human rights monitors in northern France as saying that they were witnesses to the actions of the French authorities, which dealt with people’s belongings.

“It may be French authorities who assault the refugees, but it is the UK government that gives them the batons and bullets,” Corbyn said.

He added that the British government paid, in 2021, £55 million to the French border guards to prevent any attempt to cross the border into British territory.

Corbyn commented by saying: “Absolving itself of any international or moral responsibility toward refugees, the UK is paying France to criminalise them instead.”

He pointed out that Britain is the least among European countries in the field of accepting asylum applications, even before Braverman took over the Home Office.

When Corbyn was asked what should be done, he replied: “Instead of bankrolling the persecution of refugees trying to reach our shores, the UK should be playing a leading role in renewing international commitments to the rights of displaced people around the world.”

The former Labour leader also called for objecting to the ruling Conservative Party’s refugee policy, not because it lacks financial wisdom, but because it lacks basic respect for human rights.

“Refugees are not political pawns to be debated and disempowered. They are human beings, whose hopes and dreams should not be sacrificed in calculations of electability,” he added.

It is noteworthy that the news circulating about the new plans that the British government is preparing came at the end of another challenging week for Sunak’s party, which is still lagging behind the Labour Party by 20 points in opinion polls.

However, Britons of both parties, Conservatives and Labour, broadly agree that recent Conservative governments have done poorly on immigration and asylum, which are among the top three issues for nearly a third of them.

According to a poll published by YouGov on December 19, 73% of Britons criticize the government’s handling of the immigration file, whether they are supporters of the Conservatives or Labour.

15% of Conservative supporters consider the government’s performance in the immigration file unjust and unfair to immigrants, and the percentage rises to 70% among Labour Party supporters.

66% of Conservative supporters think the number of people allowed in is too much, and among Labour Party supporters, the percentage drops to 19%.

46% of Conservative supporters criticize the two types of immigrants and refugees, while the percentage is limited to 20% among Labour Party supporters.