The Prime Minister has vowed to put an end to the “immoral” illegal migration trade as the Government prepares to unveil new powers to crack down on small-boat crossings in the Channel.
The legislation, promised as part of Government efforts to tackle illegal migration, could come as soon as Tuesday, as Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that the only way into the UK would be a “safe and legal route”.
The legislation is expected to make asylum claims inadmissible from those who travel to the UK on small boats.
It would see a duty placed on the Home Secretary to remove “as soon as reasonably practicable” anyone who arrives on a small boat to Rwanda or a “safe third country”.
The small boats plan has already run into a wave of opposition.
Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The plans as they’ve been announced really are quite confusing.
“We can’t move anyone to Rwanda right now – it’s subject to legal challenge.
“We can’t remove anyone back into Europe because there are no returns agreements and we lost access to the database that allows us to prove that individuals have claimed asylum in Europe – Eurodac – when we left with Brexit.
“So, unless we have a safe third country that isn’t Rwanda to send people to, this just doesn’t seem to be possible.”
She also warned that the threat of a crackdown could lead to an increase in the number of people risking the crossing.
The gangs will tell people “quick, cross now before anything changes”, she said.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also suggested the move was a political tactic ahead of May’s local elections and questioned its legality.
Last month, a new study found Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was mainly responsible for the influx of small boats crossings in the English Channel.
The decision to leave the EU without a returns agreement in place has led to the “skyrocketing” number of dangerous crossings, according to the Durham University report.
As part of the union, Britain could previously ask fellow nations to take people back if they had passed through safe countries en route to the UK under the Dublin Convention.
However, that agreement was waived under the Brexit deal.
The latest Government figures show 1,442 people have made the journey so far this year, as of Monday. This is compared to 184 at the same point in 2020, 285 people in 2021, and 1,341 people in 2022.
Some 45,756 people are thought to have made the crossing in 2022, the highest total ever.
There were no recorded small boat crossings until 2018.
“The government used to have a deal on returning migrants, but it ended with Brexit and no alternative was agreed,” said study author Professor Thom Brooks. “This made it far more difficult to return any new arrivals, and numbers have skyrocketed after this deal stopped.”
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