Channel crossings to the UK have increased amid mass evictions in Northern France. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak published an emergency bill that gives ministers the power to ignore judgments from Strasburg Court sparks criticism from politicians in the conservative parties and rights organisations.  Home Secretary, James cleverly, announced a “more robust” five-point plan to reduce migration net a day before signing a new treaty with Rwanda. Meanwhile, Home Office cancels a large number of asylum cases without consent in what it calls “implicit withdrawal” and removes asylum seekers from one hotel to another.

Migrant crossings through the channel have increased once again in the last few days. Since the beginning of this year, more than 28,453 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats, compared to the total for the entire year of 2021 which is 28,526. This is set to be the second-highest level on record after 2022 saw 45,755 migrants making the crossing, reports the Independent newspaper. According to Home Office stats, 1018 migrants reached the English Channel between 28 November and 4 December. Over the weekend of 2-3 December, the French authorities said that they rescued nearly 190 people off the Calais coast in northern France while attempting to cross to the UK. Care4Calais reported on 5 December that “The body of a young man, reportedly a refugee, has been found on a beach 50km south of Calais. He is thought to have suffered a heart attack and died in the sea, his body being washed ashore by the tide”. “This is thought to be the 23rd refugee death in northern France in 2023 – an unusually high number – and the 12th in less than 60 days”. Meanwhile, mass evictions by French authorities have been the largest in the last few days concurrently at three sites in Calais, as well as at several settlements in Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk amidst dropping temperatures. The organisation added that at “At Grande-Synthe the police seem to have cleared not only tents but also trees, bushes and any structures that offered shelter”, forcing people to take shelter in buses going sometimes to other cities.

An emergency bill was published by the government of PM Rishi Sunak on 6 December aiming to block UK human rights laws in an effort to revive the government’s unlawful plans to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda. This bill, which will have to go through the House of Commons and House of Lords before enforcement, will assert that ministers have the power to ignore judgments that come from Strasbourg while stopping short of leaving or “disapplying” the European Convention on Human Rights. While Sunak believes that the “new landmark emergency legislation” will allow control of UK borders, “deter people taking perilous journeys across the Channel and end the continuous legal challenges filling our courts”, some politicians from the conservative party said that such a move raises the possibility that it will still be open to individual legal challenges. The country’s migration minister Robert Jenrick resigned over the new Rwanda asylum law that he described as a “triumph of hope over experience”. Jenrick said that the government did not go far enough, and that “stronger protections” were needed to end “the merry-go-round of legal challenges which risk paralysing the scheme”. As a result, the job of immigration minister has been divided into two roles; Michael Tomlinson was appointed by Sunak as illegal migration minister, while Tom Pursglove will have responsibility for legal migration. The emergency legislation sparked critiques by refugee rights organisations. ECRE member Refugee Council said that the bill is a “shameful move” from the government to “treat refugees like human cargo, forcibly shipping them across the world to a country our Supreme Court has determined isn’t safe”. The organisation calls on the government to “stop its obsession with unworkable and inhumane schemes that show a total disregard for men, women and children in search of safety” while underlining other alternatives to create an “orderly and humane asylum system”. Care4Calais commented on the bill saying: “No politician with a shred of decency would vote for this disgraceful bill. If it does pass the Commons and the Lords, be in no doubt – there will be further legal challenges”. Hamza Yousaf, first minister of Scotland, called the Tories’ latest plans on Rwanda policy as “morally repugnant”. Amid growing critiques over the new bill from the Tories and charities, PM Rishi Sunak vowed to “do what is necessary” to revive the blocked Rwanda deal even if it means ignoring U.K. human rights laws, adding that the new bill is the “toughest immigration law ever” that will end “the merry-go-round of legal challenges” preventing deportations to Rwanda. Sunak also urged his Conservative MPs on Thursday to unite behind the plan.

A day earlier, on 5 December, Home Secretary arrived in Rwanda to complete the mission of Prime Minister, Rishi Shunak, who said in COP28 that “patience is worn thin” by delays to make deportations to Rwanda a reality. Home Secretary said that new treaty addresses the court’s concerns including the risk of being returned to a country where they might face persecution. adding that that Rwanda is “safe” and “cares about the rights of refugees” disregarding reports including by Human Rights Watch (HRW) proving the opposite. “Rwanda cares deeply about the rights of refugees, and I look forward to meeting with counterparts to sign this agreement and further discuss how we work together to tackle the global challenge of illegal migration”, he said. Under this deal, Rwanda will receive £15m more in addition to the £140m already given to Kigali in the financial year 2022-23 and the £100 paid in April this year as a part of a plan for the East African country to accept asylum seekers from the UK. The extra money given to Kigali over the newly signed treaty will be paid by British taxpayers and ministers have been trying to hide this fact from the public in what was called by Dame Diana Johnson, the chair of the home affairs select committee as a “total disregard” for parliamentary scrutiny and by chair of the public accounts committee, Meg Hillier, as “cloak and dagger” tactics. Ministers on 8 December defended handing Rwanda a further £150million saying it pales in comparison to their eye-watering hotel bills. Featonby from Refugee Council said: “A few hundred people might get sent to Rwanda. Under the deal & the Illegal Migration Act tens of thousands of people will be left in permanent limbo in the UK, with their asylum claims never processed. The cost of that will be billions and dwarf what’s currently spent on hotels”. Cleverly justified the mounting costs of the new treaty saying “The financial arrangement which inevitably comes as part of an international agreement reflects the costs that may be imposed on Rwanda through the changes that this partnership has created in their systems: in their legal systems and their institutions”. A spokesperson for the Rwanda government described by the Home Secretary as “professional, thoughtful and serious partners on the world stage” said “there’s nothing wrong with the [original] treaty” and the “guarantees” outlined in the new agreement “already existed”. The East African country’s foreign affairs minister Vincent Biruta said the country had been “unfairly treated” by international organisations, the media, and the courts over the asylum deal, adding that “It is not helpful for all of us to criticise a country like Rwanda which is contributing to a solution while we are not even addressing the root causes… which produce those refugees.

Home Secretary James Cleverly came up with a “more robust” five-point plan on 4 December amid Tories’ anger at the Court’s ruling against Rwanda scheme and net migration hitting 745,000 last year. The package includes measures on health and care visas, skilled worker visas, family visas, the shortage occupation list and student visas. Through this plan, he bans care workers from bringing over their families to end the “abuse of the health and care visa” and raises the price of family visas to “ensure people only bring dependants whom they can support financially”. According to Cleverly, these measures – as well as the previously announced measures on students – would mean that 300,000 people who entered the UK last year would not have been able to. “When our country voted to leave the European Union, we voted to take back control of our borders”, he told MPs, adding “Thanks to this Conservative government, we now have a points-based immigration system through which we control who comes to the UK”.

Meanwhile, the Home Office has been cancelling asylum claims “by mistake” under pressure to meet Rishi Sunak’s vow to clear the backlog of 92,000 “legacy” applications. Official statistics reveal 4,829 asylum claims have been “withdrawn” without consent between January and September this year after accusing people of disappearing, missing asylum interviews or failing to respond to questionnaires, compared to 1,477 such cases during the same period in 2022, according to figures published on Thursday. While people whose claims have been “withdrawn” have terrible consequences including the loss of the right to financial support, accommodation and work and living in the UK, the Home Office calls the process “implicit withdrawal”, and defines it as cases where applicants “fail to cooperate with the process to examine and decide the asylum claim within a reasonable period. Besides, BBC found that migrants were moved from a hotel in Folkestone, Kent to another in an attempt to meet the government’s promise of closing 50 hotels by January. While charities criticised the “nonsensical” closure of migrant hotels, the Home Office said it is working to reduce the impact of hotel closures while underlining the aim to reduce the use of hotels and their expenses. Alex Kempton, of The Refugee Buddy Project, said it was “ridiculous and nonsensical to really disrupt and turn upside down these people’s lives just to move them to another hotel”. Additionally, the government confirmed that asylum seekers will leave two Herefordshire hotels by April.

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