close British law enforcement carry out first roundup of illegal migrants for deportation to Rwanda Video

British law enforcement carry out first roundup of illegal migrants for deportation to Rwanda

A video released by the British Home Office shows officers enforcing the Safety of Rwanda Act, which allows the government to round up asylum seekers and deport them to the African country. (Courtesy: United Kingdom Home Office)

The United Kingdom on Wednesday commenced its controversial operation to relocate migrants to Rwanda in Africa, promising more “operations” in the coming weeks. 

The British government has spent two years battling legal and political roadblocks in pursuit of its Rwanda policy plan, which would allow the U.K. to send any asylum seekers entering the U.K. from a “safe” country after Jan. 1, 2022, to the African country. Last year, the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously ruled the policy unlawful, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially said he would accept. But in January he reversed course and announced his intent to ignore the court orders. 

“Are there circumstances in which I’m prepared to move ahead in the face of Rule 39? The answer is clearly yes,” Sunak said. He ultimately pushed through the legislation in the final week of April. 

“The U.K. government have held out as long as they can, letting millions of illegal immigrants flood the U.K., most of them arriving after the people voted for Brexit,” Thomas Corbett-Dillon, a commentator and political consultant and former adviser to Boris Johnson, told Fox News Digital.


Illegal Migrant deportation

An image from video published by the United Kingdom’s Home Office shows authorities detaining an asylum seeker who will eventually be sent back to Rwanda to await processing. (United Kingdom Home Office)

“But, finally, the people have started standing up and rejecting these insane asylum policies, so the government are panicking,” Corbett-Dillon said. “They think these flights to Rwanda will appease us, but it’s too little, too late.”

He continued, “Some people are angry that they are being sent to Africa, but illegal immigrants should be sent wherever, just not here. We incentivize and encourage these people to make dangerous journeys, and the human traffickers are making huge profits.”

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Pointing to the U.S. he noted that “There is an example here for a future Trump administration to begin mass deportations of illegal immigrants, which is exactly what the majority of people want. Unless, of course, Biden grants an amnesty before he loses the election, which is looking more and more likely,” he claimed.

The BBC determined 52,000 asylum seekers could potentially qualify for the program, with 5,700 included in the first group identified for removal. 


Both the U.N. refugee agency and the Council of Europe last month urged Downing Street to rethink its plans over concerns about violations of human rights protections and fears that it would damage international cooperation on tackling the global migrant crisis. 

“Our Rwanda Partnership is a pioneering response to the global challenge of illegal migration, and we have worked tirelessly to introduce new, robust legislation to deliver it,” British Home Secretary James Cleverly said in a press release. 

A lifeboat pulls ashore with rescued migrants

A group of migrants is brought to Dungeness, Kent, by RNLI lifeboat after a small boat incident. (Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Our dedicated enforcement teams are working at pace to swiftly detain those who have no right to be here, so we can get flights off the ground,” Cleverly continued. “This is a complex piece of work, but we remain absolutely committed to operationalizing the policy, to stop the boats and break the business model of people smuggling gangs.”

Sunak said he expected the first flights to take off in 10 to 12 weeks, taking them to Rwanda, where they would then await the processing of their asylum claim. The prime minister expected that “multiple flights a month through the summer and beyond” will keep the asylum seekers moving out of the country throughout the year. 


Rishi Sunak

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference, at the Downing Street Briefing Room, in central London, on April 22, 2024 regarding the Britain and Rwanda treaty to transfer illegal migrants to the African country. Rishi Sunak promised on April 22, 2024 that deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in “10 to 12 weeks.” (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The famous Hope Hostel, which housed college students who had lost their parents during the 1994 genocide, said it would now take the deported asylum seekers from the U.K. 

“Even if they arrive now or tomorrow, all arrangements are in place,” the Rwanda government’s deputy spokesperson, Alain Mukuralinda, told The Associated Press, revealing that authorities have prepared for two years to receive the migrants. 

James Cleverly Rishi Sunak

British authorities enter a home in which Rwandan asylum seekers live.  (United Kingdom Home Office)

The initiation of the operation to deport the illegal migrants prompted complaints from some quarters, with several British outlets criticizing the Home Office video as a bizarre “celebratory” video, citing online reaction that called the video “performatively cruel” and “shameful,” according to Scottish newspaper The National. 

However, the government also announced the first voluntary deportation occurred as well, with one asylum seeker accepting a payment of around $3,750 to relocate to Rwanda. The British newspaper The Sun reported that the man, who remained unidentified, departed the U.K. Monday and now lives in Kigali. 


Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council demanded that the British government focus on creating a “fair and controlled asylum system” instead of “headline-grabbing schemes that will waste time and resources.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news. 

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