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UK passes Illegal Migration Bill as charities warn of ‘dark days’ ahead

July 18, 2023 at 11:54 am

Pro-migrant protesters gather in the Parliament Square during a demonstration against government’s controversial immigration bill, in London United Kingdom on March 13, 2023 [Raşid Necati Aslım/Anadolu Agency]

The government has passed the Illegal Migration Bill after winning a final series of votes in the House of Lords.

The bill was passed between the House of Commons and the House of Lords three times whilst a group of peers attempted to make amendments.

One amendment was that UK-based victims of modern slavery were provided with safeguards, but that was rejected by 205 to 193.

As well as changes to modern slavery protections, the House of Lords was also attempting to introduce child detention limits.

Under the bill, the government is legally bound to remove asylum seekers who arrive in the UK “illegally” and send them to Rwanda or another third country.

In June the British Court of Appeals ruled that the UK government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful because it could not be considered a safe third country.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to stop the small boats, in reference to dinghies and wooden vessels which carry asylum seekers across the English Channel and land on the southeast coast of the UK.

READ: Libya border guards rescue migrants left in desert by Tunisia

This legislation is part of Sunak’s attempt to deter people from crossing in this way and from claiming asylum if they do.

Home Office Minister Lord Murray of Blidworth said that small boat arrivals cost the taxpayer £6 million ($7.9 million) a day for accommodation.

Charities have spoken out against the bill, including the Refugee Council which has said that it will come at huge cost to the taxpayer and will, in the first three years, leave almost 200,000 men, women and children detained or in limbo.

The UNHCR has issued a statement to say that the Illegal Migration Bill will have “profound consequences for people in need of international protection.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “For decades, the UK has provided refuge to those in need, in line with its international obligations – a tradition of which it has been rightly proud.”

At the same time the bill was passed, a barge that will house 500 asylum seekers headed to Dorset on the south coast of England.

A report from the NGO Reclaim the Seas and One Life to Live found that using the barge to accommodate people will save only £9.28 ($12) per person per day.

Four in ten people who crossed the English Channel in 2022 were from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, or Sudan.