Britain passed sweeping new laws on Thursday that require security officials to detain and deport anyone arriving on the country’s shores by small boat. Those caught will also be banned from ever returning or applying for British citizenship in the future. File photo courtesy of EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN
April 27 (UPI) — British lawmakers on Thursday approved controversial government plans to discourage tens of thousands of people from entering the country on small boats by making it illegal.
MPs in the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament, voted 289 to 230 to pass the Illegal Migration Act, as the ruling Conservative government successfully fended off a rebellion by some of its supporters.
The bill, which would see all arrivals detained and deported to their home country or a safe third country such as Rwanda, has been strongly opposed by around 20 Tory MPs, who are concerned about lumping unaccompanied children and victims of human trafficking with “illegal immigrants”. “.
MPs who called for a three-day limit on children’s detention, which could only be overturned by a court, refused after ministers promised to consult with them about a “new deadline”.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, The Children’s Society, Action for Children, the National Children’s Bureau and Barnardo’s strongly criticized the bill.
“We strongly believe that allowing unaccompanied children to be detained for more than 24 hours is unacceptable and poses a serious risk to their health, safety and security,” the charities said. said in a joint letter to Interior Secretary Suella Braverman.
Former prime minister Theresa May and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith tabled an amendment to overturn the bill, which would have ended the current deportation period for suspected victims of modern slavery or human trafficking, but did not put it to a vote.
“Sending victims back to their own country or to a third country such as Rwanda will simply, at best, make them feel less safe and less able or unwilling to testify, and at worst, bring them back into the fold.” human traffickers and slave drivers,” May said.
The bill is expected to face more problems when it goes to the House of Lords, which could fundamentally change it.
It is also being challenged by the European Court of Human Rights, which has already blocked deportation flights to Rwanda, with which Britain has a migrant reception agreement.
Rwanda’s policy, which the government tried to introduce last year, includes a five-year plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, while those granted refugee status are allowed to settle there.
The flights have been suspended since the court issued a temporary restraining order in June.
The bill includes a provision allowing Braverman to defy future ECtHR orders in certain circumstances.
When she introduced the legislation early last month, Braverman admitted there was a more than 50% chance the bill was inconsistent with international law.