Rwanda - Asylum Plan
Rwanda - Asylum Plan

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government’s unbelievable plan to send those seeking sanctuary in our country to Rwanda. This plan is obscene, impractical and eye-wateringly expensive.

It’s quite clear that this is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Boris Johnson to distract from his own law-breaking and in direct response to the recent fines the Prime Minister has received, the Government has sunk to a new low.

This plan has been universally condemned by refugee organsations, a former Tory immigration Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury. They all agree that this plan cannot work and will be deeply damaging.

Not only is the policy utterly unethical, but it is simply unworkable. This proposed plan will make it harder not easier to get fast and fair asylum decisions.

The reality is that the Tories have a terrible record on tackling the growing backlog at our borders. Home Office decision making has collapsed, delays and incompetence means they are taking 50% fewer asylum decisions than 5 years ago.

Instead of tackling the growing backlog and delays or drawing up a proper security and migration agreement with France to tackle dangerous boat crossings and to target the despicable people smugglers, Priti Patel is putting forward plans that risk sending Ukrainian families who arrive without the right visas thousands of miles to a country with a human rights record that our own Foreign Office warned about last year.

The Prime Minister will tell you that this same project has been successful in Australia. However they have spent £5.5 billion sending just over 3,000 asylum-seekers overseas since July 2013, equating to over £1.7 million per asylum seeker. This is over a hundred times more expensive than our current asylum system.

Even more worryingly at least 12 people have died in the Australian camps, and there have been hundreds of reports of child abuse and self-harm. One of its two centres has been shut down, the majority of people have been transferred back to Australia, and people haven’t, thankfully, been sent offshore since 2014.

The Home Office is now a catalogue of failure from passport queues to Ukrainian visa delays to rising crime and falling prosecutions. Instead of getting a grip on the basics, all Priti Patel and Boris Johnson do is come up with wild and unworkable headlines. Britain deserves better.

I agree that we need much stronger security and co-operation to stop crossings, tackle vile people smuggling and prevent awful loss of life in the channel. However sending those who reach our shores to Rwanda is obviously not the solution.
We need proper action working with Europol, the French police and other police forces and it starts with a strong working relationship with French counterparts and others in Europe.

I fully support Labour’s plans to criminalise advertising smuggling on social media but the government rejected them. Meanwhile, their Borders Bill makes it harder to prosecute human traffickers, according to the independent anti-slavery commissioner. It is such a mess that it would even criminalise Ukrainian refugees who arrive in the UK without the right papers.

There is no substitute for a proper crackdown on criminal gangs and traffickers – working with police forces across Europe, and getting prosecutions of traffickers. Instead the government is making it harder to prosecute criminals

We also need to make sure there are safe, legal routes to sanctuary for refugees fleeing war and conflict to stop people being exploited by smuggler gangs.

Labour has been pushing the government to negotiate a new security and migration agreement involving safe returns, safe family reunion routes and security cooperation. Ministers promised for years that they would get returns agreements in place with EU countries but they have none

Finally, we would sort out the chaos and delays in the Home Office under Priti Patel so that asylum decisions are taken much faster and the backlog is cleared. The only reason asylum seekers are in hotels is because Home Office decision making has collapsed and the backlog has soared. It is shameful that under Priti Patel the Home Office has become so poor and slow at taking asylum decisions they are now asking Rwanda to do it instead.

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