The Home Office is considering granting an effective amnesty for migrants who have arrived in the UK since July after holding thousands in detention for ‘indefinite’ periods for potential deportation to Rwanda with no access to the asylum system.
Since the Illegal Migration Act received royal assent in July, thousands have been left in limbo after the legislation placed a duty on the Home Secretary to remove migrants arriving by methods such as small boats without considering asylum claims.
But a Home Office source has told the Sunday Times that government is now considering granting them an effective amnesty by allowing them access to the asylum system amid fears the UK could be in breach of the United Nations Refugee Convention.
Immigration experts have pointed out that asylum seekers – many of whom are highly vulnerable – are currently being held, some in detention centres, with no prospect of being removed to a safe third country.
This comes after the Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling that stated the UK’s plan to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda to have asylum claims processed was unlawful.
Since the Illegal Migration Act received royal assent in July, thousands have been left in limbo after the legislation placed a duty on the Home Secretary to remove migrants arriving by methods such as small boats without considering asylum claims
In a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, this week the Supreme Court concluded unanimously that the Rwanda scheme to deport arrivals immediately would break the law
In a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, this week the Supreme Court concluded unanimously that the Rwanda scheme to deport arrivals immediately would break the law.
President of the Supreme Court Lord Reed said there would be a risk of genuine asylum seekers being returned by Rwanda to the home country they fled from.
The decision immediately sparked Tory demands to loosen protections under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so the policy can go ahead.
At the time, Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson said the Government should simply ‘ignore the laws’ and ‘just put the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda’.
The PM responded to the Supreme Court ruling by pledging a new treaty with Rwanda and emergency legislation allowing Parliament to declare the East African country safe for asylum seekers.
It is thought a new treaty could be published as early as Monday.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, told the paper: ‘The Illegal Migration Act is unfair, unworkable, and expensive.
‘It’s causing huge distress and anxiety for those we support with rising levels of acute mental health problems for already traumatised men, women and children.
‘There are serious questions about the legality of leaving people in this situation indefinitely and the government should swiftly take action by allowing them all to be given a fair hearing in the asylum system and treated with compassion and dignity.’
The PM said that planes should start leaving for Rwanda next Spring – although he would not guarantee the timetable.
‘Let me tell everyone now – I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights,’ Mr Sunak said.
There are fears the UK could be in breach of the United Nations Refugee Convention
‘If the Strasbourg Court chooses to intervene against the express wishes of Parliament I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to get flights off.
‘I will not take the easy way out.’
There are fears amongst the Tory right that the House of Lords may move to stop any emergency legislation from making its way through Parliament.
MP Sir Simon Clarke, who was a cabinet minister under Liz Truss, said the Prime Minister should seek a fresh mandate for his emergency legislation and call a snap election if peers attempt to hold it up.
Charities have slammed the government’s Rwanda plan and welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgment.
In response to the judgment, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: ‘This judgment is vital to protect people seeking asylum in this county, but the Government must now draw a line under a disgraceful chapter in the UK’s political history.
‘The deal with Rwanda – a country with a track record of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture and the repression of free speech – was massively ill-conceived and cruel.
‘It’s now time for the Government and the new Home Secretary to not only abandon the idea of doing a deal with Rwanda, but to scrap the underlying policy of refusing to process people’s asylum claims and the Illegal Migration Act that has entrenched that dismal policy.
‘This policy has made complete chaos of the UK’s asylum system and this shameful deal has simply exacerbated the mess.
‘The only responsible, effective and decent response to this judgment should be to get down to the serious task of fairly and efficiently determining people’s claims.
‘The idea that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention to pursue this failed policy is nonsensical and should be immediately binned. The Government should make policies which fit with the law, not fit the law around their policies.’
Rishi Sunak faces a tough week ahead with many in the Tory party disagreeing on how far government should go to try and enforce the policy.
Some have called for the UK to withdraw from the ECHR, and up to 30 MPs, known as the New Conservatives, are to meet next week.
New migration figures are also due to come out on Thursday – so far more than 27,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats since January 1.