Fox News Flash top headlines for March 30
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The U.K has announced a plan to move migrants seeking asylum from current hotel accommodations to a barge, at least two military bases and ships in an effort to slash surging costs and end the hotel scheme, London’s immigration minister said Wednesday.
An “accommodation barge” capable of housing hundreds of migrants is reportedly being refitted for the transition, one government source told The Times.
The barge, previously used to assist with offshore construction projects, would be stationed in a port, not anchored at sea, though the exact location where it will be kept remains unclear.
Photo depicts an example of a generic “Accommodation Barge” and is not necessarily the specific barge that the U.K. government is considering for use to house migrants seeking asylum. (Harmony Marine Shipbroker )
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According to the U.K.’s immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, the government is also considering transporting “illegal migrants” to “vessels,” which some reports described as former cruise ships.
Two former military bases in Lincolnshire and Essex are also under review to house the migrants currently staying in costly hotels.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the U.K. in 2022 saw a jump in the number of individuals seeking asylum, particularly from “small boat arrivals” crossing the English Channel, with 72,027 applications last year – a figure that is double the number reported in 2019.
“The sheer number of small boats have overwhelmed our asylum system and forced the government to place asylum seekers in hotels,” Jenrick said Wednesday, speaking from the House of Commons.
The immigration minister argued the U.K. policy to house the overflow of migrants in hotels has taken accommodation access away from local communities and put pressure on public services.
Detainees are seen wrapped in blankets inside the holding center for migrants, near Ramsgate, southeast England, on Nov. 3, 2022. (Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)
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Jenkins said that in particular tourism has been negatively affected, weddings have been canceled and Brits have been left to front the more than $2.8 billion annual bill.
“We must not elevate the well-being of illegal migrants above those of the British people,” he argued. “Given the scale of the challenge, we must fundamentally alter our posture toward those who seek to enter our country illegally.”
Jenkins said accommodation for migrants should meet the “essential living needs and nothing more.”
“We cannot risk becoming a magnet for the millions of people who are displaced and seeking better economic prospects,” he added.
Asylum seekers have traveled to the U.K. in greater numbers over the past few years, with 45,000 reaching Britain’s shores in 2022, according to the government. (Reuters)
Human rights groups have taken issue with the U.K.’s proposals and some Conservative party ministers have threatened legal action if their areas are used to house migrants in military bases, vessels or on barges, reports said Wednesday.
The U.N. reported that migrants from Albania were the largest group seeking asylum in the U.K. during 2022, with 13,650 Albanian applicants.
Iran came in second, with 9,652 applicants, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
A sign at the entrance of the village of Wethersfield, where the British government is planing to house asylum seekers at a former RAF base, on March 29, 2023. (Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)
The U.N. Refugee Agency has argued that “there is no such thing as… an illegal asylum-seeker.”
“As an asylum-seeker, a person has entered into a legal process of refugee status determination,” the agency said in a statement on asylum in the U.K.. “Everybody has a right to seek asylum in another country.
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“People who don’t qualify for protection as refugees will not receive refugee status and may be deported, but just because someone doesn’t receive refugee status doesn’t mean they are a bogus asylum-seeker,” the agency added, noting this does not equate them to a criminal.
It is unclear when migrants will start to be removed from the U.K.’s hotel system and placed in these government accommodation sites, though Jenkins noted it would happen “in the coming months.”
“These sites on their own will not end the use of hotels overnight,” Jenkins said. “They will relieve pressure on our communities, and they will manage asylum seekers in a more appropriate and cost-effective way.”
Caitlin McFall is a Reporter at Fox News Digital covering Politics, U.S. and World news.