The first illegal migrants to be sent to Rwanda under Priti Patel’s new offshoring scheme will be informed of the decision this week, The Telegraph understands.
Single men who came to the UK illegally since January can be given a one-way ticket to east Africa under the plans, with the first tranche of migrants set to leave Britain by the end of May.
Those who are sent to Rwanda on charter flights will have their asylum applications processed there and successful applicants will be allowed to stay. Migrants who are not deemed to be legitimate asylum seekers will be deported.
A government source said the first notifications would take place this week, which could mean flights leave Britain by the end of May – in line with a timeline set out by Boris Johnson when the policy was announced.
But the policy is already subject to a number of legal challenges, with some activist lawyers seeking to have the flights grounded for human rights reasons.
A 2020 report by the Human Rights Watch charity said prisoners in the country suffered arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture in official and unofficial facilities.
Journalists have visited an apartment block in Kigali that will purportedly be used to house migrants. However, critics said it will not be big enough to house everyone the UK sends there.
Ministers say they have taken legal advice on the policy and are confident it is legally watertight. However, the length of court appeals is likely to delay the first flights by some time.
Government sources said they hoped the first flights would leave the UK “as soon as possible”, but that ministers “know there will be legal challenges” and are “less optimistic” than before about when it would happen.
Last month, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman appeared to row back on the original timetable, suggesting the first migrants would set foot in Rwanda in the “coming months” – rather than by the end of May, as the Prime Minister had originally suggested.
The spokesman insisted the plan was a “fully legally secure approach that has been tested and thought through”. The spokesman indicated that the Home Office may not wait for the legal cases to be resolved before starting flights, although this suggestion now appears to have been abandoned.
A separate Whitehall source familiar with the policy told The Telegraph that a timeline of two months from the original announcement in mid-April was more realistic.
The policy is opposed by Labour, which described it as a “shameful announcement” designed to distract from “partygate”, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said the principle could not “stand the judgment of God”.
The archbishop said: “It cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because subcontracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”
But the announcement was welcomed by Tory backbenchers, who said it would end the flow of illegal migrants across the Channel in small boats and put a stop to the activities of criminal gangsters who organise their crossings.
The news that the migrants will be informed they will be sent to Rwanda within days comes after Ms Patel was shouted at by activists over the policy on Friday night.
Six activists posed as Tories at a £40-a-head dinner for the Bassetlaw Conservative Association, before rounding on the Home Secretary during her speech.
One shouted that Ms Patel should “drop your racist Rwanda migration policy”, while another added: “Your racist policies are killing people.”
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( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )