The Government of Sunak plans to control irregular immigrants with GPS bracelets | International
Rishi Sunak's Conservative government openly admits that it is considering the idea of monitoring some of the irregular migrants who arrive on UK shores with electronic GPS-enabled bracelets. "We are contemplating all the options within our reach", the Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, acknowledged on the BBC, when asked about the news advanced by the newspaper The Times. “We have just approved a fundamental tool, the Illegal Immigration Law. It will allow us to detain and expel all those who arrive here illegally," Braverman warned. Sunak has made the fight against irregular immigration the touchstone of the success or failure of his mandate, and in order to gather popular support he has opted for a more criminal than humanitarian approach to the challenge. From the beginning, the term used to refer to people who dare to cross the waters of the English Channel and reach the English coasts is illegal, and not irregular, which has been proposed for years by the High Commissioner for United Nations for Refugees (Acnur). With the new measure of control, the bracelets, a restrictive measure of freedom would be imposed on immigrants that the law only allows after a judicial decision or as an alternative to a prison sentence.
"They are treating these people as objects, rather than vulnerable men, women and children seeking safety, and they should be treated with compassion and humanity," said Enver Solomon, the organization's executive director. UK Refugee Council, upon learning of the new plans of the British Home Office.
The new immigration law, which the Sunak government finally managed to pass through Parliament last month, is a self-induced trap for Downing Street. By imposing on the Home Secretary the legal responsibility to detain and deport all irregular immigrants arriving in the United Kingdom, the pressure created ends up provoking desperate solutions (“cruel and inhumane”, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, head of the Anglican Church of England), such as the deportation of immigrants to Rwanda, confinement in floating prisons or, now, the electronic control of their movements.
If the plans of the Ministry of the Interior contemplated the use of up to 25,000 electronic bracelets in 2025 for the control of convicted criminals, the extension of this mechanism to the thousands of irregulars arriving in the United Kingdom would overwhelm the resources available to the security forces, as its main managers have warned.
Sunak's broken promise
The British Prime Minister promised almost a year ago to put an end to the arrival of boats with irregular immigrants on the south coast of the country; increase the number of detention centers ―to avoid having to use hotels all over the country―; and put an end to a historic bottleneck in the processing of asylum requests that flooded the administrative offices of the Ministry of the Interior. Three promises that have very quickly turned into three political failures.
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According to the latest figures from the Government itself, more than 175,000 people were waiting for a response to their asylum application at the end of June, the highest number since the statistics began to be recorded more than a decade ago. It represents an increase of 30% compared to a year ago, when the number of applicants was more than 122,000. The United Kingdom spends close to 4,000 million euros a year on accommodation, maintenance and assistance for all these people. Almost a third of them, some 50,000, live in hotels scattered throughout England. The Government allocates almost seven million euros a day for this purpose.
Solutions like the giant boat bibby stockholmanchored on the island of Portland, on the south English coast, have exposed the Sunak government to ridicule. With the capacity to house 222 people —a miniscule number compared to the real challenge of irregular immigration—, the initial plans contemplated that half a thousand male adults between the ages of 18 and 65 would occupy the rooms of what some organizations have defined as a “ floating prison. As already happened in June 2022 with the first plane that was attempted to be sent to Rwanda before the European justice frustrated the flight, in which barely six immigrants boarded, the number of new tenants of the bibby stockholm it was only 39, after a cascade of appeals to the courts stopped most of the income. And the discovery of traces of legionella in the pipes of the boat, in mid-August, forced its temporary evacuation.
Finally, although the rate of arrival of boats that cross the waters of the canal in 2023 is, for the moment, somewhat lower than the previous year (21% less), reality is stubborn, and refutes the promise repeated by Sunak with the slogan Stop The Boats (Stop the Ships) that decorates its lectern whenever the prime minister publicly addresses the issue. Compared to the 299 immigrants intercepted in 2018 by the British Coast Guard, in 2023, the number reached 45,755. So far this year, there are already more than 19,800, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior itself.
From 2018, when the public count began, to the present, the total figure is almost 105,000 people. Almost the same number that have arrived in Italy so far in 2023. While the United Kingdom watched from a distance the migration crisis that affected the European Union after the outbreak of the war in Syria, the increase in its own statistics, which it has coincided with the culmination of Brexit, it has turned immigration into the biggest headache and electoral risk of the Conservative Party. Sunak's government - especially Minister Braverman, who heads the hardest wing - has come to consider abandoning the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it has adhered since 1945, if the Strasbourg Human Rights Court continues hindering plans to deport to Rwanda many of the irregular migrants who manage to reach the UK.
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