The UK government plans to tell asylum seekers this week they could be sent to Rwanda under its latest deportation policy, the Home Office has confirmed.
The government will prioritise anyone who arrived in the UK after May 9 and the Home Office plans to issue them with a notice of intent.
Under the programme, anyone deemed to have arrived in the UK “illegally” will be sent to Rwanda while their claims are processed.
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.
Unaccompanied minors arriving in the UK will not be considered for relocation to Rwanda.
The UK is paying the processing costs for each person sent to Rwanda, including caseworkers, access to legal advice, translators, accommodation, food, health care and up to five years of training to help with integration.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she will use “every tool and every piece of legislation at our disposal” to remove migrants who arrive in the UK “illegally”.
She also insisted the government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda sends a “clear signal” but it will “take time” to enact.
Asked if it would be a long time before removals take place and whether she was confident the programme would work, Ms Patel said: “When it comes to our migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, it is clear that our objective as a government is to remove those with no legal basis of being in the UK to Rwanda. That is the basis of our agreement.
“I’ve said from day one, even when I signed the agreement and announced the partnership, that this will take time and it will take time for a range of reasons.”
She said many of the hurdles and barriers would come in the form of specialist law firms that want to block the removals.
“We see this day in day out, I see this with all the removals whether it’s foreign national offenders, people that have caused harm and criminal offences against British citizens — these firms specialise in preventing their removal,” she continued.
“So yes, there will be barriers and yes, it will be hurdles, but … it is a determination of this government, through the work that I have led including the Nationality and Borders Act … that act of Parliament will give us greater powers and greater means through the changes in legislation to remove those individuals who have no legal right to be in our country.”
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under fire for “attacks” on lawyers who are “simply doing their jobs” while the government faces legal action over the plans.
Mr Johnson claimed “liberal lawyers” would attempt to scupper the deal as Downing Street said flights for the one-way trip to the East African nation may not take place for months, following criticism and legal challenges.
“Attacks on men and women for simply doing their jobs are irresponsible and undermine the rule of law,” said Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Bar Council.
Sir Jonathan Jones QC, a former head of the government Legal Department and now a senior consultant at law firm Linklaters, said it was “not fair to blame the lawyers for bringing such challenges — they are just serving the best interests of their clients, as they are professionally bound to do”.