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UK Starts Mass Arrests for Deportation to Rwanda: What Happens Next?

UK has begun mass arrests of potential Rwanda deportees: What’s next?

The British government has initiated a series of operations aimed at detaining migrants for deportation to Rwanda, marking the implementation of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s immigration policy. The UK Home Office, responsible for immigration affairs, released a video showcasing armed immigration officers apprehending individuals at their residences and transferring them to deportation vehicles.

These operations precede the first deportations, expected within the next nine to 11 weeks, as announced by Interior Minister James Cleverly, who emphasized swift action to remove those deemed ineligible to stay.

Parliament recently passed the Safety of Rwanda Bill, enabling the deportation of asylum seekers arriving illegally in Britain to Rwanda, despite previous legal challenges. Sunak, likely eyeing an upcoming election, framed this policy as a deterrent against Channel crossings and a measure to combat human trafficking networks. However, this move has drawn criticism from unions and human rights organizations, expressing concern over the arrests’ scale and the difficulty in mounting legal challenges against them.

The Home Office’s initial targets include approximately 5,700 individuals who arrived in the UK without authorization between January 2022 and June 2023. However, thousands remain unaccounted for, with some suspected to have fled to Ireland.

UK Starts Mass Arrests for Deportation to Rwanda: What Happens Next?

UK Starts Mass Arrests for Deportation to Rwanda (Credits: Irish Independent)

Even asylum seekers attending mandatory appointments have been arrested, intensifying fears within affected communities. Human rights groups like the Migrants’ Rights Network and the Humans for Rights Network have raised alarms over the arbitrary nature of these arrests and the lack of connection to Rwanda for many detainees.

These arrests have sparked fears and pushed asylum seekers into precarious situations, with some going underground to evade authorities. Rights groups highlight the risk of re-traumatization among those with a history of torture or ill-treatment, exacerbated by detention and the looming threat of deportation to Rwanda. Despite legal challenges and past court rulings, the UK government remains steadfast in its plan to deport migrants to Rwanda, circumventing previous legal barriers.

Legal avenues for challenging deportations are limited under recent legislation, such as the Safety of Rwanda Bill and the Illegal Migration Act, which effectively curtail asylum seekers’ ability to contest their removal. While some legal organizations are mobilizing to provide support, the prospects for successful legal challenges remain uncertain. Calls to scrap the deportation plan and overhaul the asylum system have intensified, with concerns over its humaneness and compliance with international law mounting.

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