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Ascension Island: UK Govt considers relocation of migrants to Ascension Island amid evolving immigra


In an evolving strategy to address the influx of small boat arrivals into the UK, government authorities are considering the possibility of relocating such entrants to Ascension Island, a volcanic landmass in the South Atlantic. A government minister has officially confirmed this approach, reigniting a proposal that was earlier dismissed as impractical in 2020.

Ascension Island as an Alternative

Home Office Minister Sarah Dines disclosed on Monday that the idea of sending individuals to Ascension Island is under serious consideration, potentially offering an alternative solution to the previously debated plan of deporting people to Rwanda, in case the Rwanda strategy falls through. This deliberation comes in response to the ongoing legal scrutiny faced by the government’s policy on deportations.

Legal Implications and Justifications

Although the high court had initially deemed the deportation policy as legal, the court of appeal has since overruled this decision. With the government seeking a conclusive judgment from the supreme court, the proposal to utilize Ascension Island is being explored as an added precaution. Minister Dines reiterated the government’s determination to tackle the problem of illegal migration, which often involves human trafficking and criminal networks.

Balancing Costs and Policy Effectiveness

Amid concerns about the considerable costs associated with transporting refugees over a distance of 4,000 miles for processing, Dines emphasized that the primary focus remains on executing the agreement with Rwanda. However, she acknowledged the government’s responsibility to consider all available options, reflecting their commitment to addressing the crisis in the Channel.

Historical Context and Policy Evolution

The concept of utilizing Ascension Island was initially brought forward three years ago at the request of the then Home Secretary, Priti Patel. This suggestion emerged while investigating strategies adopted by other nations to manage asylum applications. Notably, the original policy implied the potential return of migrants whose legitimate claims were acknowledged. However, under the current Illegal Migration Act, individuals attempting irregular entry are permanently excluded from re-entry.

Public and Political Reactions

Critics have characterized the Ascension Island proposal as inhumane, unfeasible, and financially extravagant. The government’s reconsideration of this plan has sparked debates, with Minister Dines explaining that the evolving situation necessitates a thorough review of options.

The Wider Context

As discussions continue on reshaping immigration policies, humanitarian organizations, along with refugee and asylum experts, have consistently advocated for establishing “safe and legal” pathways to the UK to manage asylum claims. This approach has been proposed as an effective way to curtail illegal crossings.

Furthermore, in a separate development, Minister Dines expressed optimism that the Bibby Stockholm barge, located in Portland Port, Dorset, will soon begin accommodating asylum seekers, forming part of a broader strategy to provide housing to those in need.

FAQs

Q1:Why do people cross the English Channel in small boats? A “small boat” is among several types of watercraft employed by individuals to traverse the English Channel, with the intent of entering the UK without a visa or authorization. This can involve either direct arrival on UK shores or being intercepted at sea by authorities and subsequently brought ashore.

Q2:What is the new migrant law in the UK? The Illegal Migration Act amends legislation to ensure that individuals arriving in the UK unlawfully will not have the option to remain and will instead be subjected to detention and swift deportation, either to their country of origin or a designated safe third country.

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