Rwanda enforcement officers told all leave is cancelled, as government hopes law will pass

todayApril 16, 2024 4

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Rwanda enforcement officers told all leave is cancelled, as government hopes law will pass

Immigration enforcement staff have had their leave cancelled as the government hopes its plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda will become law this week.

Speaking to Sky News, Lucy Moreton from the ISU, the union for borders, immigration and customs, said the staff who will be expected to arrest and remove people still know very little about how they will be expected to force people on to planes.

She said immigration enforcement officers have had all leave cancelled for six weeks, beginning the week after next.

Initially, they had been told leave was cancelled from next week but that has been delayed.

“When this happened before, when we were waiting for the Supreme Court judgement, they cancelled the leave for immigration enforcement but also they cleared a quantity of immigration detention space. That hasn’t happened this time,” Ms Moreton said.

“We don’t know why that hasn’t happened at this point.

“The provisions at the moment are that you cannot remove on the day on which you arrest. So you arrest someone and you’ve got to hold them at least overnight to have enough time to be able to contact family, get personal effects brought to them, contact legal advisers if that’s what they want to do.

“At the moment there’s no suggestion that we would be plucking people off the streets and putting them on to an aircraft. I think logistically that would be incredibly difficult to do. It’s just one of those things that there simply is no answer to.

“If we’re going to arrest enough people to put them on a flight we’ve got to have somewhere to put them in the meantime.”

A sign saying welcome to the republic of Rwanda. Pic: AP

Pic: AP

She did say it would be possible to find space to hold people who have been detained.

“The detention estate is always very fluid.

“It would be possible to free up space at relatively short notice simply by bailing the individuals that are currently detained. It is slightly oxymoronic thought that you would bail one batch of individuals simply to detain another batch of individuals in order to enforce their removal.”

Explainer: Everything you need to know about the Rwanda plan

She added that staff who would be involved in the process are “expressing significant concern”.

“This is a very different way of dealing with migrants, of dealing with individuals whose removal is going to be enforced and members are expressing concern that might increase the level of operational risk to them.

“We’ve been asking for risk assessments. There are environments if enforcement are asked to go into them that are utterly new, for example asylum seeker hotels which are something that really an enforcement officer would not normally go into. But having said that there is no indication, no formal indication, from the Home Office that that is what they actually propose to do.

“It could well be that actually thinking is that the individuals who arrive by small boats could simply be moved onto an aircraft and removed. The Home Office are not giving very much information.”

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The Home Office said it does not comment on the number of individuals being considered for Rwanda.

In response to Ms Moreton’s interview, it told Sky News: “We make no apology for pursuing bold solutions to stop illegal migration, dismantle the people smuggling gangs and save lives.

“We have robust operational plans in place to get flights off the ground to Rwanda.”

Written by: Newsroom

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