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UK Home Office to Foot £2bn Hotel Bill for Illegal Immigrants

People thought to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were picked up in the Channel, wait to be disembarked from a British border force vessel, in Dover, south east EnglandInternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieBritish PM Rishi Sunak’s promise to stop rampant people-trafficking across the English Channel has rung hollow. New laws to deport illegal immigrants before they can claim refugee status are yet to be enforced.The British Home Office will have to pick up the bill to put up illegal immigrants in hotels while their asylum claims are heard, a government watchdog has warned.The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), a semi-independent agency that scrutinises government spending on foreign aid, said that the new Illegal Migration Act would prevent the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) using its Official Development Assistance budget to help cover the costs of housing migrants.

"Our analysis of the aid rules suggests that the Illegal Migration Act, if fully implemented, could close off the main source of funding the government is using to house asylum seekers," said ICAI chief commissioner Dr Tamsyn Barton.

Last year the FCDO spent £2.4 billion ($3 billion) on the costs of keeping asylum claimants in the UK, £1.9 billion ($2.4 billion) of which went on hotel accommodation. Those costs would have to be borne by the Home Office in future, according to the ICAI analysis.The Illegal Migrants Act, introduced to Parliament earlier this year by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, gives authorities powers to deport illegal immigrants to their own or a third country deemed safe, with no right to claim political asylum or to a legal appeal.Critics have said that law could be impossible to enforce if refugee welfare groups win legal challenges to it in the European Court of Human Rights — prompting calls from Conservative hardliners for the UK to withdraw from the organisation.Opposition Labour Party MP Sarah Champion, chairwoman of the House of Commons International Development Committee, said the ICAI report meant the Illegal Migrants Act had turned out to be a «spectacular own goal” for the government.More than 100,000 people have been illegally trafficked to the UK since 2018 across the treacherous waters of the English Channel and North Sea on dangerously-overloaded inflatable boats. Most are young single men, with many coming from the southern European country of Albania — a candidate for membership of the European Union (EU) which the UK formally left in 2021.Most boats are picked up once they enter British waters from France by His Majesty’s Coastguard or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a charity crewed by mostly-unpaid volunteers, and the occupants brought safely ashore.WorldLeaked Memo Shows EU Will Block Deal to Send Trafficked Migrants Back to France15 August, 14:15 GMTThe influx has overwhelmed migrant reception centres and local authorities’ housing departments, and since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 many have been accommodated in hotels.The Conservative government has come under fire from its own back benches over plans to convert disused Royal Air Force bases and army barracks into migrant camps. A plan to house single male migrants on a floating hotel rented by the government was postponed after deadly legionella bacteria was detected in its plumbing. Braverman’s scheme to resettle asylum claimants in Rwanda has been delayed by legal challenges.Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge earlier this year to stop the crossings, the number of arrivals hit record highs in the summer.Meanwhile a leaked memo showed the EU has ruled out a deal with the UK to return illegal immigrants the to safe countries on the continent they crossed before claiming asylum in the UK.

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