The Home Office’s response to the migrant crisis has been the subject of a series of critical reports and revelations about its policies this week.
The latest news that Britain stands to lose £120million it paid to Rwanda if its plan to deport migrants is found to be illegal by the courts, came amid court revelations about the controversial policy as well as several reports containing damning conclusions and increasing number of passages.
Here are the developments so far:
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee concluded there was “no evidence” that the Rwandan policy acted as a deterrent.
Home Secretary Priti Patel last week backed out of questioning MPs and then refused requests from the committee to appear before them before Parliament’s summer recess.
So far, more than 15,000 people have been registered in the UK in 2022, almost double the number registered at this time last year (7,735).
A High Court hearing revealed that the Foreign Office advised the government against sending migrants to Rwanda on human rights grounds.
Several asylum seekers, the public and commercial services union and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are challenging the legality of the Home Office policy, with next hearings scheduled for September and October.
The first deportation flight was grounded in June amid legal challenges and subsequent court hearings have raised the possibility that it will not be attempted again until winter.
Some migrants with removal instructions from Rwanda have already been released from immigration detention as, for now, another flight has not been scheduled.
Since Ms Patel signed the deal with the East African nation, more than 1,000 migrants have crossed the Channel.
The Home Secretary pledged to overhaul Border Force, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to relinquish responsibility for tackling crossings in April. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) is now leading the operation.
It came after a review, commissioned by Ms Patel and carried out by former Australian immigration minister Alexander Downer, found the Home Office agency was operating at a ‘suboptimal level’ and was stretching its resources in an “unsustainable and highly inefficient” way.
There were “significant systemic challenges” and he seemed to be “struggling to break out of a crisis management cycle, react to the latest challenge and prepare for the next, however predictable the next challenge may be”. Border Force may have been ‘counterproductive’ in the way it handled Channel crossings, the report added.
Crossings came to a halt for the first time after a 12-day spell of migrant arrivals, the longest consecutive run so far this year. Some 2,218 made the crossing between July 8 and July 19.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a drone brought in by the government in a bid to limit Channel crossings has been found floating in the sea by fishermen after it malfunctioned.
Chief Borders and Immigration Inspector David Neal finds the Home Office’s response to increased Channel crossings “poor” and “the system is overwhelmed”.
The problems arose mainly due to a “refusal” by the government department to move from an “emergency response to what quickly became a steady state, or status quo”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Refugee Council said the number of asylum seekers “laning” in hotels had nearly tripled in the past year.
Home Office data obtained by the charity showed that in December more than 200 hotels were in use and around 10% (around 2,500) of those staying there were children.
Nearly £5million a day is spent on housing asylum seekers in hotels.
The Rwandan government confirmed it had received £120m from the UK – the full upfront payment for the deal the UK signed in April – and said the funds were already “committed”, with part of the money spent on preparations for arrivals.
Officials said they were “committed” to making the deal work and would seek “solutions” if the courts blocked the plan from moving forward.