The British Parliament adopted a highly controversial law on immigration, which seeks to prevent immigrants who have arrived in Britain illegally ply for asylum in the country.
This law is a key step for conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has made the fight against illegal immigration a priorityin an attempt to calm the extreme right of the Tories and fearing a general election, which they will lose.
He promised to “stop” the arrivals through the English Channel of migrants aboard small boats from France. In 2022, more than 45,000 immigrants arrived on board these ships to the English coasts, a record. More than 13,000 have made the journey this year.
The text, which still needs to be validated by King Carlos III, “is in contradiction” with the obligations of the United Kingdom, under international law on human rights and refugees, according to the UN.
This law, which has aroused much criticism in the United Kingdom and by international organizationsprevents illegally arrived immigrants to British territory to ply for asylum in the country. The government also wants migrants, after being detained, to be quickly deported, either to their country of origin or to a third country like Rwanda, wherever they come from.
London made a deal last year with Rwanda to send illegal immigrants there, but no deportations have yet taken place. A first flight scheduled for June 2022 had been cancelled, following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). At the end of June, the courts declared this project illegal. But the government immediately announced an peal against this sentence.
Rishi Sunak’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill to become law after the legislation passed its last hurdle in the House of Lords.
Ping pong with the Lords
In a series of nightly votes, the government saw final changes to the bill sought by its peers, including modern slavery protections and child detention limits.
This Tuesday morning, an accommodation barge prepared to house 500 asylum seekers, as part of the government’s migration plans, finally arrived at the port where it will be based.
The Bibby Stockholm was pulled by a tugboat into the port of Portland in Dorset, with the proposal to use it to house immigrants, under the intent of Sunak to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel, a month late. Dorset councilors are furious that the Conservative government did not consult them. There are protests in the port.
The barge’s arrival followed a night of drama in which the Torys finally overcame a rebellion by Lords, which delayed passage of the bill.
It marked the end of more than two months of days of parliamentary fighting, before the summer recess begins. The two chambers were locked in what is called ping pong, where legislation is debated between Lords and Commons, until an agreement is reached. But now the way has been paved for the bill to receive royal assent.
The reforms are a key part of Sunak’s bid to stop small craft canal crossings, one of the prime minister’s five key priorities. They will prevent people from plying for asylum in the UK, if they arrive by unauthorized means.
People board an inflatable boat in Sangatte, northern France, to try to cross the English Channel. they succeed, They arrive at a beach and go to the police to ask for asylum. Some are lost among their community if they are not discovered.
The government also hopes that the changes will ensure that people detained be deported quicklyeither to their home country or to a third country like Rwanda, which is currently the subject of a legal challenge because it is an autocracy.
The ministers had urged the Lords to allow the bill to become law after noting that no further concessions were planned. The parliamentarians again annulled a series of revisions made earlier by the upper house.
Britain argues that it’s the traffickers who get rich with the arrival of migrants. It is not the case generally. Migrants along their way in Europe have connections with other migrants, who guide them where to get the inflatable boat. They get together, buy it and go out. One of them drives it and not the dealers.
But the trafficking gangs are generally of Kurdish origin and they live in Britain legally.
Lord Murray of Blidworth, a Home Office minister, said the number of small boat arrivals had “overwhelmed” the UK asylum system and cost taxpayers £6m a day to provide accommodation.
“If people know there’s no way they’re going to stay in the UK, they will not risk their lives or pay criminals thousands of pounds to get here illegally,” he told MPs.
“Therefore, it is right that we stop the ships and break the business model of criminal gangs, who exploit vulnerable people. Which will ultimately allow the government to have a greater ability to provide a safe haven to those at risk of war and persecution,” he said.
Most of the migrants who arrive in Britain are persecuted by the war from Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan and have the right to asylum. The reason they arrive is because Britain refuses to open a safe route for the refugees.
In the kingdom there is a great need for post-Brexit labor: there are no staff for bars, for cleaning, for restaurantsin agriculture, but the authorities do not provide those jobs for the arriving refugees.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, agreed on the need to stop the boat crossings. But he said that he didn’t see how the bill accomplished that.
Welby argued that the starting point of the bill should have been “a level of consensus and national agreement about what is the goal of our immigration policy and our long-term immigration policy.”
The spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, who is a member of the House of Lords, is a fierce opponent of this law. “I don’t see how” it will stop the migrant boats, he said during the debates. “I haven’t heard anything that has convinced me,” he added.
The immigration bill was stalled for weeks in Parliament as the House of Lords pushed numerous amendments, including limits on the detention of children and protections against modern slavery. The text still needs to be validated by King Carlos III to become law.
The new law contradicts the UK’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law, the heads of the UN agencies in charge of these two issues, Volker Turk and Filippo Grandi respectively, said in a statement from press.