Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is “absolutely determined” that the UK will send migrants to Rwanda despite the prospect of legal challenges being mounted by human rights groups.
It comes as the Home Office has begun formally notifying migrants of their removal to Rwanda, with the first deportation flight expected to depart in two weeks.
The Government described the move as the “final administrative step” in its partnership with the east African nation, whereby people who are deemed to have entered the UK illegally will be encouraged to rebuild their lives thousands of miles away.
Responding to comments made on Monday by the chief executive of Freedom From Torture, Sonya Sceats, that the Rwanda plan is a “cash for humans scheme”, Ms Patel said that is “absolutely not right”.
“No, it’s absolutely not right”, she said.
“And the fact of the matter is, every government around the world has policies to remove individuals with no legal basis to remain in that country.
“And we’re speaking about people of different nationalities. And we’ve been doing this with other countries. We have removal schemes, where we can remove people to their country of origin.
“But of course, I’m absolutely determined to make sure that we remove people.”
Despite the prospect of the removals being held up by court action from human rights groups, Ms Patel said that she was “resolute” to deliver the scheme.
“The fact of the matter is, as I have said from day one, there are many, many cases where individuals bring legal actions and legal claims to thwart the removal of individuals.
“This will also apply no doubt, and we expect this.
“And it will be a challenge and I’ve said that from the outset. And I am absolutely resolute to my determination to deliver for the British public.
She said that the scheme was “unprecedented” and “exactly what the British people want”.
“And as for this migration and economic development partnership that we have with the government of Rwanda”, she said.
“It is unprecedented. It’s the first of its kind and I can tell you something else, it’s exactly what the British people want.”
The Home Secretary said that the British people had voted for the Conservative Party because they wanted a government “that will make difficult decisions”.
“They voted for a government that will make difficult decisions and find solutions to some of the most challenging problems that previous governments have not been able to find or address”, she said.
Put to her that the timing of the scheme’s announcement was a distraction tactic from the partygate scandal, Ms Patel said that it had been “two years in the making”.
“Well, that’s, quite frankly, an insult to everybody that’s worked on this”, she said.
“This has been two years in the making.”
“You’ve already heard me speak about how resettlement plans and removal plans have been in place for some time with other countries.”
She said that she was “resolute” in her determination to deliver the scheme in the face of legal challenges from human rights groups.
“I am absolutely resolute to my determination to deliver for the British public.
“That is why I’ve changed our laws with the Nationality and Borders Act.
She said she had spent the last two years working hard with officials in the UK and Rwanda to develop an economic development and migration plan so that the UK could have a “firm approach” to removing migrants.
In line with those plans, earlier this month the Home Office started issuing “notices of intent”, informing some individuals they were “in scope for relocation”.
The removal directions confirm to people that they are being sent to Rwanda, and when, with the first flight expected to depart on June 14.
Described by Ms Patel as a “world-first” agreement when it was announced last month, the deportation policy will see asylum seekers deemed to have entered the UK by illegal means sent to Rwanda, where their claims will be processed.
If successful, they will be granted asylum or given refugee status in the country.
Those with failed bids will be offered the chance to apply for visas under other immigration routes if they wish to remain in Rwanda, but could still face deportation.
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