UK begins detaining migrants under Rwanda deportation plan

British authorities have begun detaining migrants in preparation for deportation to Rwanda within the next nine to 11 weeks, according to the government on Wednesday. This move lays the foundation for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s key immigration policy.

Parliament approved legislation in April to allow the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda who arrived in Britain without authorization. Sunak aims for the first flights to depart in July.

So far this year, over 7,500 migrants have reached England via small boats from France. The government contends that this policy will deter people from undertaking the perilous journey across the Channel, which claimed five lives last week.

However, human rights organizations and unions opposing the policy are gearing up to initiate new legal challenges. This follows last year’s UK Supreme Court ruling that declared the policy unlawful.

The Interior Ministry released images on Wednesday of a man being placed in a van by immigration enforcement officials and another being led out of his house in handcuffs.

“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,” Interior Minister James Cleverly stated.

Care4Calais, a refugee charity, reported that the detentions began on Monday. A spokesperson from the group mentioned that their helpline had received calls from “tens of people,” but details about who would be on the first deportation flight and its timing remain unclear.

In a related development, The Sun Newspaper reported on Tuesday that Britain had sent its first asylum seeker to Rwanda under a voluntary scheme, separate from the deportation policy.

“People are very frightened,” said Natasha Tsangarides, Associate Director of Advocacy at Freedom from Torture. She expressed concerns that the fear of detention and deportation to Rwanda might drive some individuals to disappear and disconnect from their support networks.