This past Thursday, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, officially announced a new deal between Rwanda and his nation that enables the U.K. government to start the process of deporting its illegal immigrant population out to the East African nation. Johnson stated that he gave credit to Brexit for making such a thing a possibility.
“This innovative approach driven by our shared humanitarian impulse and made possible by Brexit freedoms, will provide safe and legal routes for asylum while disrupting the business model of the gangs, because it means that economic migrants taking advantage of the asylum system will not get to stay in the U.K.,” stated Johnson as part of a recent speech, as reported by Fox News.
“While those in genuine need will be properly protected, including with access to legal services, on arrival in Rwanda and given the opportunity to build a new life in that dynamic country supported by the funding we are providing,” he stated.
It was also reported by Fox News that well over “28,000 entered the U.K. on boats in 2021, up from 8,500 in 2020. It has led to concerns about exploitation by gangs, similar to the way cartels have exploited the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the danger to migrants.”
“Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity is not,” Johnson stated as part of his speech.
Fox also highlighted that various international groups, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), issued their disapproval of this deal coming from Rwanda and the U.K.
“UNHCR remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards. Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention,” stated Gillian Trigg, the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, in a release.
Rwanda will be issued a payment of $157 million over a period of five years by the British government in order to give housing and a few other benefits to the migrants.
As reported by NPR, the deal will most certainly be challenged via the court system, and the U.K. has previously attempted a deal of this kind in the past only to see it shot down by potential partners:
Several earlier proposed locations for the U.K. to send migrants — including the remote Ascension Island, Albania and Gibraltar — were rejected, at times angrily, by the nations in question.
The Rwanda plan faces hurdles both in Britain’s Parliament and in the courts. Johnson’s Conservative government has introduced a tough new immigration bill that would make it more difficult for people who enter the country by unauthorized routes to claim asylum and would allow asylum-seekers to be screened abroad. It has not yet been approved by Parliament, with the House of Lords seeking to dilute some of its most draconian provisions.