EXPLAINED: What is the UK-Rwanda migrant plan?

UK-Rwanda migrant plan
Rwanda President Paul Kagame holds talks with UK Prime Minister Richi Sunak

, – UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's proposal to send asylum seekers arriving without permission in the UK to faces parliamentary scrutiny as divisions within his Conservative Party come to the forefront.

The bill is set for a vote following legal challenges to the previous policy.

Details about the Plan and Migration Issue:

Immigration as a Major Concern:

  • The issue of immigration remains a key concern for voters in the UK, with the desire to control borders being a significant factor in the 2016 vote to leave the .
  • The government, led by Sunak, aims to cut legal migration by 300,000 and prevent people from making dangerous journeys across the Channel in small boats.

Rwanda Asylum Plan:

  • The Rwanda scheme, initiated in April 2022 under then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, aims to deter illegal migration and disrupt the business model of people smugglers.
  • Individuals arriving illegally in the UK after January 1, 2022, faced potential deportation to Rwanda, over 4,000 miles away.
  • The declared the initial plan unlawful, leading to the current legislative proposal.

Sunak's Perspective:

  • Prime Minister Sunak, who made stopping illegal boat arrivals a top priority, justifies the plan as crucial for fulfilling promises to the public.
  • The UK currently spends over £3 billion annually on processing asylum applications, with significant costs associated with housing migrants awaiting decisions.

The Rwanda Bill:

  • Sunak's proposed bill seeks to address legal concerns raised by the Supreme Court by establishing a new treaty with Rwanda.
  • The bill affirms Rwanda as a safe country and grants ministers sole authority to decide compliance with any European Court of Human Rights injunction.
  • Despite potential conflicts with human rights conventions, Sunak aims to start deportation flights to Rwanda in the spring.

Parliamentary Challenges:

  • Legal experts argue that the bill may not fully override European Court of Human Rights findings, and asylum seekers could still appeal to UK courts.
  • Some Conservative lawmakers back amendments to further limit challenges to deportations.
  • Sunak faces a potential rebellion within his party, with a working majority of 56, and the bill's fate in the House of Lords remains uncertain.

International Comparisons:

  • Other European nations, including and , have tightened border controls, while the EU has reached a new deal for more equitable distribution of hosting migrants.
  • had a similar deal with Rwanda, but it was scrapped in 2018 after the Israeli Supreme Court declared it unlawful.

The final vote on Sunak's Rwanda bill is expected on Wednesday, with potential implications for the UK's approach to asylum seekers and immigration policies.

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