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17 Jan, 2024 13:27

UK refreshes controversial Rwanda deportation plan

The government will hire a pool of judges to handle migrant appeals against resettlement in the African nation
UK refreshes controversial Rwanda deportation plan

The British government announced plans on Tuesday to recruit and train 150 judges to run a new appeals system for asylum seekers who may file legal challenges against deportation to Rwanda under the UK’s illegal migration policy.

The latest move comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces widespread criticism from lawmakers, including his Conservative Party, over the Illegal Migration Act, which was introduced last year to deter migrants from entering the UK. The law aims to prevent people who enter Britain illegally from staying, returning them instead to their home country or a supposed safe third country, such as Rwanda.

Sunak has defended the policy, which has become central to his campaign for re-election this year, as the toughest immigration law ever proposed. However, some Tory MPs argue that it will not work in its current form, despite the adoption of an amended bill in December that seeks to address court concerns that Rwanda is not a safe country for migrant resettlement.

The lawmakers have called for new legislation in order to override domestic and international laws that challenge the scheme. They want individual appeals against deportation to be completely outlawed, claiming that such cases will clog the courts and block flights from leaving for the African country.

In a statement to parliament on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the British government is working to boost court capacity to fast-track asylum appeals under the Rwanda policy.

He said additional hearing rooms have been prepared, and over 100 new staff have been hired to support the “Upper Tribunal’s work and are currently undertaking training ready for the commencement of the Illegal Migration Act.

We are confident that, with the additional court room and judicial capacity… the vast majority of Illegal Migration Act appeal work will be dealt with by the courts in an expedited manner,” Chalk said.

The announcement comes as Sunak’s deputy party chairs, Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith, announced their resignations on Tuesday, joining calls to toughen up the bill. Anderson and Clarke-Smith said in a joint letter that they were quitting “in order to vote for amendments” that would improve the legislation.

Robert Jenrick, who resigned as British immigration minister earlier last month over the bill, is spearheading Tory efforts to revise it in the House of Commons.