British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, defended the government's Rwanda deportation policy in a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blocked the first planned flight late Tuesday night, Anadolu News Agency reports.
Patel doubled down on the government's rationale behind the controversial scheme that would see cross-Channel migrants deported to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed offshore.
"It is no use pretending they are fleeing persecution when they are travelling from a safe country," she said.
"Our capacity to help is not infinite and public support for the asylum system will be fatally undermined if we do not act," Patel added. "The critics of the Rwanda Partnership have no alternative proposal to deal with uncontrolled immigration."
Late Tuesday night, the ECHR ruled that the Rwanda flights could not take place until a High Court judicial review next month, brought forward by one of the deportees, is completed.
The ECHR is not part of the EU.
Domestically, Britain's High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court all refused to block the Rwanda flights.
Following the ECHR decision, the British government has insisted it is still pressing ahead with the scheme in the future.
Patel said she wanted to make "totally clear" that the ECHR did not rule that the Rwanda plan was "unlawful" but "simply prohibited the removal of three of those on last night's flight."
"Those prohibitions last for different periods but are not an absolute bar on their transfer to Rwanda. While this decision to intervene was disappointing and surprising, given repeated and considered judgements to the contrary in our domestic courts, we remain committed to this policy," Patel said.
"We believe that we are fully compliant with our domestic and international obligations, and preparations for our future flights and the next flights have already begun," she said.