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Rishi Sunak Presents New Bill on Illegal Immigration

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed on Tuesday the government’s latest crackdown on Britain’s immigration crisis. The Illegal Migration Bill aims to reduce the number of Channel migrant crossings, tasking Home Secretary Suella Braverman with removing illegal migrants and “radically narrowing” the number of legal appeals that could delay their deportation, according to The Telegraph

The government announced that in line with new legislation any individual entering the country by unauthorised means will be detained and face due legal process. After 28 days they will be deported “to their home country or a safe third country,” like Rwanda, where they will be “supported to rebuild their lives,” according to the Home Office. Exceptions are to be made for children and those medically unfit to fly. 

Once deported, they will also be blocked from returning to the UK or applying for British citizenship in the future. The bill is being applied retrospectively, meaning the law will be made effective from a past date and subsequently impact those already living in the country. 

Amid criticism from human rights activists and organisations, the government has defended its new asylum plan as a measure to stop traffickers and smugglers from exploiting prospective migrants. In a tweet, the Prime Minister called it “how we will break the business model of people smugglers [and] take back control of our borders.” 

Sunak has claimed the UK’s asylum and immigration system is “being overwhelmed by those jumping the queue.” Speaking of the migrants themselves, he maintained that “they are not the most vulnerable. They are travelling through multiple safe European countries […] paying thousands of pounds.”

In a letter to all MPs, the Home Secretary promised the legislation would allow the government to “act now to stop the boats”, and “free up capacity [to] better support those in genuine need of protection through safe and legal routes.” Despite this, Braverman was unable to confirm on Tuesday whether the policy is in line with the European convention on human rights, according to The Guardian. The bill contains a Section 19(1)(b) statement, meaning that the government intends to proceed regardless. 

What’s more, migrants who are victims of human trafficking will be prevented from using Britain’s modern slavery laws to avoid deportation, including the 2015 Modern Slavery Act that grapples with offences such as forced labour, exploitation, and trafficking. 

The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR has said in a statement it is “profoundly concerned” by the new bill, which amounts to an “asylum ban [and] clear breach of the Refugee Convention.” Additional critics of the policy include various Tory ministers, who predict it will be halted by challenges in the European court of human rights. 

Sunak has described the plans as “tough, but necessary and fair,” maintaining that the legislation is in the best interests of the British public. This comes as announcements today have revealed £478 million will be given to France to help tackle the small boats crisis. The funds, according to Sunak, will finance a new detention centre, 500 officers, and more drones to prevent unauthorised boats crossing the Channel from French shores.

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