Detailed Plans Revealed for Detention and Deportation of Asylum Seekers in the UK
Leaked Papers Unveil UK Government's Ambitious Deportation Targets
In a shocking revelation, leaked documents have shed light on the UK government’s intention to detain and deport more than 3,000 asylum seekers each month as part of Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s proposed asylum bill. As Conservative MPs criticize Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over record levels of net migration, the briefing papers disclose detailed plans to remove 3,163 asylum seekers per month starting from January 2024.
The Guardian UK reports that these leaked documents primarily focus on the implementation of the illegal migration bill and emphasize the potential legal consequences ministers may face if there is not a substantial increase in legal aid fees for lawyers providing advice to refugees. Until now, the Home Office has withheld the impact assessment of the bill, making these leaked documents the first glimpse into the magnitude of the challenges Whitehall may encounter during the bill’s implementation.
This revelation comes at a time when net migration and the backlog of asylum claims have reached unprecedented levels. The Office for National Statistics released figures showing that overall migration into the UK for 2022 was 606,000, a 24% increase compared to the previous record high of 488,000 in 2021. Moreover, the latest statistics indicate that over 100,000 asylum seekers have been waiting for an initial decision on their cases for more than six months, while over three-quarters of small-boat asylum applications since 2018 are still pending a decision.
The leaked documents, urgently marked, were prepared for key officials, including Alex Chalk, the lord chancellor, Lord Bellamy, the junior justice minister, and Antonia Romeo, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice. Their objective was to ensure the availability of sufficient legal aid providers to offer advice at immigration detention centers if the bill becomes law.
Under the proposed bill, individuals who arrive in the UK without permission would no longer have the opportunity to claim asylum but would instead be detained and subsequently removed to either their home nation or a third country, such as Rwanda.
Utilizing data from the Home Office, the documents outline that the department should anticipate detaining 1,600 individuals under the bill in detention centers starting from September, with the number rising to 3,163 every month from January.
One document states, “Steers are required as soon as possible to engage legal aid provider and – if you agree it is necessary – start implementing fee increases in time for September 2023 when we are expecting to provide access to legal aid to 1,600 individuals (scenario B) and scale to 3,163 individuals a month (scenario C) from January 2024.”
Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, expressed concern over the government’s preparations for mass deportations, contradicting its claims that the bill would serve as a deterrent. Solomon stated, “It is appalling that it is preparing to lock up and kick out thousands of men, women, and children, most of whom would be found to be refugees if their claim was heard on UK soil.”
The documents also suggest that civil servants are recommending an increase of at least 15% in legal aid fees to attract solicitors to represent the thousands of asylum seekers. However, the documents caution against a potential 200% increase in fees.
Civil servants have warned Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk that a failure to provide legal advice to detainees could result in a judicial review. The briefing emphasizes, “You (lord chancellor) will have a statutory duty to secure that legal aid is available to this cohort… Not addressing capacity issues could mean that there are not sufficient legal aid providers to carry out this work. This could be challenged by way of judicial review.”
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