The British government is hoping to create an offshore immigration processing centre, possibly in Africa, amid growing pressure to find a solution to the influx of migrants coming to the country, the Times reported.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected next week to introduce legislation that will allow the government to send asylum seekers to offshore facilities for processing, the paper said, adding that Patel was in talks with Denmark, which is planning to send migrants to a processing centre in Rwanda.
UK officials have been consulting with their Danish counterparts about the legal intricacies involved with having an offshore centre, and have also discussed the “potential” of sharing the facility.
The Home Office has also reportedly examined Australia’s policy, which redirects asylum seekers arriving by sea to offshore immigration centres in Papua New Guinea and other neighboring states.
The government hopes that the new laws will discourage migrants from attempting the dangerous journey across the English Channel, and also combat human trafficking gangs. Although the legislation was intended as a way to deport migrants to the European states from which they had traveled, talks with France over the issue have led nowhere and London has reportedly failed to secure a bilateral deal with the EU.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be frustrated by the lack of progress made on dealing with the growing number of migrants entering Britain. Over the weekend, 315 asylum seekers made the journey across the Channel, bringing the total to 5,676 so far this year, the Times reported.
While the government has considered less extreme measures, a source told the paper that the decision to include the offshore provision in the bill was a “pretty strong sign of intent.”
This isn’t the first time the idea of using overseas facilities has been considered. Earlier this year, Downing Street said it was debating using territories such as Gibraltar to host asylum processing centres. Last year, reports emerged that Patel had ordered her ministry to explore the “possibility” of constructing an asylum processing center on Ascension Island as part of a tougher approach to illegal immigration. The remote isle is located some 6,400 kilometres (3,976 miles) away from the UK and approximately 1,600 kilometres (994 miles) from the nearest continent, which is Africa.
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