635 migrants arrive in UK over weekend as government vows to ramp up Rwanda resettlement scheme

FILE - Migrants successfully cross the English Channel to reach the U.K. from the European mainland.
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

British beach-goers weren’t the only ones to take advantage of the warmer weather across the country at the weekend as more than 600 asylum seekers crossed the English Channel to land on England’s southern shoreline on Saturday and Sunday, according to official data provided by the U.K. Home Office.

A total of 199 individuals in five boats were brought to Dover marina on Saturday, and 436 new arrivals from nine vessels were processed on Sunday, with French authorities confirming they returned 113 more people to Calais after three boats encountered difficulties on the waterway.

The warmer weather brought fairer sailing conditions, which often entices people traffickers operating in northern France to encourage an influx of individuals seeking to reach Britain to embark on the perilous journey.

The BBC’s southeast England reporter, Simon Jones, confirmed that more arrivals had been processed on Monday morning, despite less favorable conditions in the Channel.

Despite an announcement last month from the Home Office that those who reach the U.K. illegally will be deported to asylum processing centers in the central African nation of Rwanda, small boat crossings from mainland Europe have continued. Government figures available for the beginning of May show 792 individuals made the journey across the Channel in small boats in the week from May 2-8.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Saturday that the first group of illegal migrants will be sent to Rwanda within the fortnight, despite considerable legal opposition to the government’s resettlement policy expected.

Despite often bold statements about deportations and resettlement from both Downing Street and the Home Office under the command of Priti Patel, the British government has regularly found it difficult to follow through on its plans. In November last year, a scheduled deportation flight to Jamaica by an Airbus A350-900, which can cater for up to 350 passengers, departed Birmingham airport with just four people on board after a flurry of last-minute legal challenges gave many a reprieve.

Johnson, in an interview with U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail acknowledged the frustration the government had experienced with legal opposition from human rights lawyers and campaigners, but insisted the government would “dig in for the fight” as he announced 50 individuals would be transported to Rwanda in the coming days.

“There’s going to be a lot of legal opposition from the types of firms that for a long time have been taking taxpayers’ money to mount these sort of cases, and to thwart the will of the people, the will of Parliament. We’re ready for that,” Johnson told the newspaper.

“We will dig in for the fight and we will make it work. We’ve got a huge flowchart of things we have to do to deal with it, with the leftie lawyers,” he added.

More than 6,000 people have made the trip across the Channel to Britain so far this year after 28,526 arrived in 2021, calling into question by some the competency of the current Conservative government to effectively handle the border crisis, and to implement the desire of the British people to “take back control” of the country’s borders following the historic vote to leave the European Union in 2016.

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