Rwanda plan: Asylum seekers should be send back to UK, says Ireland

Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) Simon Harris has asked the country’s justice minister, Helen McEntee, to draft legislation that would allow asylum seekers to be sent back to the UK. This comes as the Republic of Ireland has seen a significant increase in asylum seekers entering from the UK across the Irish border—80% of recent arrivals, according to McEntee.

McEntee explained that the UK’s Rwanda policy is influencing migration patterns. The policy, recently passed into law, aims to discourage people from crossing the English Channel by sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda, a central African country. Though no migrants have been sent to Rwanda yet, the UK government plans to start within 10 to 12 weeks.

To address the increased movement of asylum seekers into Ireland, Harris has asked McEntee to present changes to existing laws that would designate the UK as a safe ‘third country’ and allow inadmissible asylum seekers to be returned there. McEntee plans to introduce emergency legislation and discuss this with UK Home Secretary James Cleverly to strengthen Ireland’s immigration framework.

Earlier, McEntee mentioned in a committee hearing that 80% of asylum seekers in Ireland now cross the land border from Northern Ireland, reflecting the shift in migration patterns. Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Micheál Martin noted that the UK’s Rwanda policy makes people afraid of staying in the UK, leading them to cross into the Republic to avoid deportation to Rwanda. Martin, also serving as Ireland’s foreign minister, opposes the UK policy.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, when asked if the UK was “exporting the problem” by driving migrants into Ireland, responded that the policy’s deterrent effect is working, as people are less likely to come to the UK if they know they can’t stay. However, a spokesperson from the UK government said it’s still too early to draw conclusions on the new law’s impact.

Home Office figures show that more than 500 migrants crossed the English Channel over two days, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 7,167, higher than the same period last year. Sunak described illegal migration as a “global problem,” noting that other countries are considering similar third-country partnerships as the UK-Rwanda agreement.

Back in the UK, politicians are also discussing reducing net migration. Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggested capping net migration at “tens of thousands” in an op-ed, while Policing Minister Chris Philp said the government was working to reduce legal migration by about “300,000 a year.” Philp urged migrants not to attempt dangerous Channel crossings, calling them illegal and unnecessary.

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