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Home Office centres deserted as migrants ‘scared’ of Rwanda scheme

todayApril 30, 2024

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Home Office centres deserted as migrants ‘scared’ of Rwanda scheme

At immigration centres up and down the country, migrants attend regular meetings with caseworkers.

But today in Solihull, protesters against the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda warned those who turned up that they could be immediately detained ahead of the first flights taking off.

Various volunteers handed out numbers of law firms to call if needed, and informed anyone they thought might not be aware of their rights before going into the fairly mundane-looking Home Office site.

Yusuf, from Somalia, has to sign in weekly at this office building, and says it’s the quietest it’s ever been inside.

Sandford House Solihull

“Normally [it’s] full. I’m waiting one hour in the queue,” he told Sky News.

When asked how long he had to wait today, he said: “One minute.”

He’s certain it’s down to the new immigration policy adding: “The people are scared of Rwanda.”

Yusuf mentioned it’s not the only thing out of the ordinary he saw today. He claimed four officials detained a man who arrived for an appointment and took him to another room.

Yusuf doesn’t know where he is now.

“I think they bring him for detention centre,” he said. “Maybe Rwanda he going.”

Details published by the Home Office reveal for the first time the people they intend to put on the first planes are those who arrived between January 2022 and last June.

Many have been sent a “notice of intent” that they are due to be on one of the first flights to Rwanda. But, out of the 5,700 identified, the Home Office admits it doesn’t know where over 3,557 of those are.

That’s because they are the people who aren’t required to regularly report to centres like this – or have simply stopped showing up.

And now those people know that if they come to centres like the one in Solihull they’re at risk of detention, more may decide to stop attending – and disappear.

Read more:
Sunak says migrants going to Ireland shows Rwanda plan is deterrent
Two men charged over felling of Sycamore Gap tree

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins told Sky News: “We want the message to go out loud and clear that if somebody doesn’t report as they should do they shouldn’t think they’ll get away with it – they will be found.”

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Migrants ‘will be found and removed’

Government efforts to rapidly close dozens of asylum seeker hotels means many have been moved around the country in recent months.

Charities say it’s not unusual for the Home Office to send letters to the wrong hotel, having lost track of where people are.

The group of people currently being targeted for Rwanda means no one who arrived on a small boat since last summer will be on the first departures.

But the number of people crossing the channel in the first four months of this year is the highest ever. Over 7,000 people have made the journey in small boats since January.

There’s no sign yet the Rwanda Plan is stopping the boats.

Written by: Newsroom

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