UK Home Office detains asylum seekers destined for Rwanda

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice. 7 May 2024

According to Reuters, the Home Office have started to detain migrates in preparation for them to be sent to Rwanda in the next 9 to 11 weeks, laying the groundwork for Prime Minister Sunak’s flagship immigration policy. According to Reuters more than 7,500 migrants have arrived in England on small boats from France so far this year and one trade union representing civil servants who may be instructed to help enact the policy said it had launched legal challenges because its members were potentially being asked to breach international law, said Dave Penman general secretary of the FDA Union.

According to the Guardian newspaper, officials refused to say how many people had been held so far but sources said there had been dozens of detentions across the UK and stated that several asylum seekers who turned up for routine Home Office appointments were detained and told they would be sent to Rwanda. The Home Office enforcement team posted a video sequence on social medial platform X showing officers hauling people from their residence and locking them up in vans to the soundtrack of electronic music, reported the Financial Times.

The Home Office said it had increased immigration detention capacity to more than 2,200 spaces to accommodate those people destined for removal to Rwanda. The department had also trained 200 new case workers to process claims and have 500 escorts ready to force people on to the planes. According to the Financial Times, commercial charters have been booked and airports put on standby for the first flights.

The Independent newspaper reported on 2nd May that ministers have been accused of trying to “bribe” voters after they released pictures of the first asylum seekers being rounded up for deportation. The spokesman for shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said that the raids were a “desperate attempt by the Tories to look tough on immigration on the eve of polling day”. The Liberal Democrats also denounced it as a “cynical nonsense from the Conservative party that it is about to take a drubbing”. Tony Blair’s former aid John McTernan said he thought it was “clear breach of civil service code”.

Another scheme running alongside the government’s deportation agreement with Rwanda, is a scheme to pay failed asylum applicants up to £3,000 to get on a flight to Kigali. On Tuesday an African man took the government up on this offer and according to the Independent, was handed around £3,000 to board a commercial flight to Rwanda after his bid to stay in Britain was rejected.