Illegal Migration Bill becomes law as Channel crossings top 14,000 this year

The announcement comes as more than 14,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year. Credit: PA

The Illegal Migration Bill has become law as new figures reveal the number of migrants to have crossed the Channel so far this year has topped 14,000.

The asylum reforms are a key part of Rishi Sunak's pledge to "stop the boats", and will prevent people from claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive illegally.

The Bill became an Act of Parliament on Thursday after receiving Royal Assent, on the day it was announced 14,701 Channel crossings have been made so far this year.

This time last year the figure was above 15,000.

It's hoped the new law will also ensure detained people are promptly removed, either to their home country or a safe third country.

The government is currently in a legal battle with the Supreme Court over whether migrants can be sent to Rwanda, after a Court of Appeal ruling deemed it unlawful.

Officials are still working on when the Act will come into force and it is anticipated elements of the new laws may be implemented in stages over the coming months.

But as of Thursday, "people who arrive illegally under the new laws will be banned from re-entering the UK and will not be eligible for settlement or citizenship, except in limited circumstances," the Home Office said.

Campaigners have condemned the plans, arguing that it will not stop Channel crossings, will fail without the Rwanda deal, and fear it could see refugees detained indefinitely.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of the charity Freedom from Torture, branded the Bill "deeply immoral", adding: "We will not stop fighting for a kinder, fairer UK."

Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, warned the legislation was "unworkable", would not solve problems with the asylum backlog, and threatened to "undermine the rule of law and access to justice".

She said: "A growing number of people will be left in limbo as they cannot be removed, and they cannot claim asylum.

"The cost to the taxpayer will continue to increase as the individuals left in limbo are housed in various accommodation indefinitely.

"There is a severe lack of asylum and immigration solicitors to represent those who are subject to removal orders."

Suella Braverman is pressing ahead with her Rwanda policy Credit: PA

One of the chief arguments made for the reforms by the prime minister and his Home Secretary Suella Braverman is that taxpayers are currently footing the £6 million daily bill for migrants to be housed in hotels.

Earlier this week, a barge which will house 500 asylum seekers was met by protesters as it arrived in Dorset's Portland Port a month behind schedule.

Two other cruise ships set to house migrants have reportedly been unable to find a berth, while the government remains adamant barges are a cheaper alternative to hotels.

On Thursday, Ms Braverman said: " Today is an important step in the Government's plan to stop the boats and put an end to dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK.

"Now that this piece of legislation has become law, we will be focused on the necessary next steps to ensure it can become operational, including by appealing to the Supreme Court in October regarding the safety of Rwanda for removal and asylum processing."

The United Nations previously denounced the Bill, warning that it broke the UK's obligations under international law.

Downing Street has defended the legislation, with officials saying the Government is confident it is acting within international law.

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