UK govt has space to detain only around 1 in 19 migrants  

Holding people at immigration detention facilities is illegal unless they are to be deported from the country within a “reasonable” amount of time…reports Asian Lite News

The UK has space to detain only about 3,000 people under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill. This is about one in 15 of the number who crossed the Channel on small boats last year and about one in 19 of the number expected to do so this year, The Independent newspaper reported on Monday.

Almost 46,000 migrants entered the UK via the Channel in 2022, and internal Home Office estimates suggest the figure could rise to more than 56,000 this year.

Even with the development of two new immigration facilities, however, there will still only be a little over 3,000 detention spaces available. Furthermore, there are only 98 places in existing immigration detention centers for women, and none for children or families, according to The Independent.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that although the government is working to increase capacity, “clearly we are not building capacity to detain 40,000 people, nor do we need to.”

She told Parliament: “The aim of the bill is not to detain people but to swiftly remove them.”

Holding people at immigration detention facilities is illegal unless they are to be deported from the country within a “reasonable” amount of time.

However, a former Home Office civil servant told The Independent that if the government does not reach agreements with more countries than Albania and Rwanda to return migrants, it could be forced to release many of those who arrive on small boats.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s shadow security minister, said the figures “just further expose how much of a con this Tory plan really is.”

He added: “It will increase the soaring asylum backlog and increase hotel use, while taxpayers foot the bill.”

Internal Home Office communications obtained by The Independent reveal concerns that “details of how the Illegal Migration Bill will be operationalized” had not been “worked through” when it was introduced.

According to the Refugee Council, at least 10,728 additional spaces will be required to meet the bill’s goal of detaining all small-boat migrants for 28 days before they can seek bail.

“Instead of spending billions to lock up people in desperate need of sanctuary, and a chance to rebuild their lives, the government should focus on creating safe and orderly routes for refugees to reach the UK,” Mark Davies, the charity’s head of campaigns, told The Independent.

Clare Moseley, the founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, described the bill as “unworkable, barbaric and pointless,” adding: “The Illegal Migration Bill will trap possibly hundreds of thousands of people not only in indefinite detention but in a system where their asylum claims will not be resolved, they will be dependent on the state and their human rights will be ignored.”

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has also said that the government is creating an “indefinite legal limbo.”

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