Thousands protest in London against Britain’s new migrant bill
Anti-racism protesters marched in London on Saturday to condemn the government’s controversial plan to deal with cross-Channel migrant crossings by preventing them from applying for asylum.
Around 2,000 protesters, many carrying signs saying “No human being is illegal” and trade union logos, marched towards Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister.
Organizers said the demonstration was partly a response to the government’s “inhumane” and “illegal” immigration bill.
Mark Daly, planning officer for the protests, said, “People in this country are civil … and they are willing to open their arms to those who are fleeing terrible conditions.”
“The government is trying to make these people not only unwanted but illegal. We cannot classify people as illegal,” he said. “It’s a racist policy of a racist government.”
Other protests took place in Glasgow, Scotland, and the Welsh capital, Cardiff.
The Conservative government wants to reject asylum claims by all illegal arrivals and transfer thousands of migrants to “safer” third countries such as Rwanda to prevent them crossing the Channel on small boats.
The bill proposes to stop people who have arrived in the country illegally from seeking asylum before being deported to a third country deemed safe.
Exceptions will be made for unaccompanied minors.
Last year more than 45,000 migrants crossed the English Channel to Britain on small boats.
UN ‘deeply concerned’
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said last week that it was “deeply concerned” about the bill’s potential impact on minors. Similarly, Volker Turk is the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons earlier this month that stopping the boats was a “people’s priority”.
On Saturday, Interior Minister Suella Braverman was visiting Rwanda to reaffirm her commitment to the government’s policy of deporting migrants.
Accompanied by Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, Braverman defended the policy at a news conference.
“I am confident that this world-leading partnership between two allies and two friends, the United Kingdom and Rwanda, will lead the way in finding a solution that is both humane and compassionate,” she said.
Biruta told reporters: “It will not only help dismantle criminal human trafficking networks, but also save lives.”
Braverman has repeatedly insisted that the government is within its rights to stop migrants crossing the Channel, adding that the total this year could be as high as 80,000.
When he introduced the Illegal Migration Bill to parliament last week, he attached a note admitting he could not yet confirm whether the plan respected European human rights law.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)