UK announces 'illegal migration bill'; PM Rishi Sunak warns migrants
United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday announced bringing a strict and controversial law the "Illegal Migration Bill" against illegal migrants coming from different countries. It will likely block them from seeking asylum or citizenship. While issuing a strong warning, Sunak said that "those who enter the UK illegally will not be allowed to claim benefits from the country's modern slavery protections."
Why does this story matter?
- Tackling the issue of "illegal immigrants" was one of the promises made by Sunak after winning the premiership.
- However, the new laws will likely strain the country's commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Refugee Convention, which give rights to asylum seekers in the UK.
- Last year, more than 45,000 people reportedly entered the UK via English Channel crossings.
Illegal migrants will be detained, removed & banned forever: Sunak
Sharing about the introduction of the "Illegal Migration Bill," Sunak tweeted, "If you come here illegally, you can't claim asylum. You can't benefit from our modern slavery protections. You can't make spurious human rights claims and you can't stay." He also warned that the illegal migrants would be detained and removed in weeks, and banned forever to reenter.
What UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted
If you come to the UK illegally you will be stopped from making late claims and attempts to frustrate your removal.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) March 7, 2023
You will be removed in weeks, either to your own country if it is safe to do so, or to a safe third country like Rwanda. pic.twitter.com/8NFaa4DbwT
New obligation on Interior Minister Suella Braverman under new bill
Sunak said the current situation of immigrants was neither moral nor sustainable. The proposed legislation will likely target people who cross the English Channel in small boats. Interior Minister Suella Braverman would be granted a new obligation to expel migrants who arrive illegally, such as across the Channel, superseding their other rights in UK and European human rights law.
'Unworkable & discriminatory': Proposed law opposed by rights groups
Rights organizations have however condemned the proposal, claiming it is "unworkable and discriminatory for vulnerable refugees." According to Christina Marriott, Executive Director of Strategy for the British Red Cross, it would violate international asylum treaties. Amnesty International called the new law inhumane, while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), claimed it amounted to an asylum prohibition and advocated "more humanitarian" options instead.
Backlog of asylum claims in UK now exceeds 1.6 lakh
About 3,000 people have landed by boat in the UK this year, and the backlog of asylum petitions already surpasses 160,000, per AFP. The UK has previously attempted to execute deportations, initiating a scheme last year to move some asylum applicants to Rwanda. Nonetheless, the scheme was thwarted by an injunction issued by the European Court of Human Rights in June of last year.