Illegal Migration Act unworkable despite passing through Parliament

The Illegal Migration Act will be unworkable despite passing through Parliament, the Law Society of England and Wales has warned.

The controversial Act is expected to be given Royal Assent today (Thursday, 20 July).

“We have been clear from the start that this legislation threatens to undermine the rule of law and access to justice,” said Law Society president Lubna Shuja.

“Whilst the Act will soon come into force on paper, it will be unworkable in practice because it doesn’t provide solutions to the asylum backlog, and there isn’t capacity in the legal aid sector to provide the immigration advice needed.

“The Rwanda removal agreement has been ruled unlawful and is subject to an appeal in the Supreme Court.

“Even if that appeal proves successful, there are no other removal agreements in place. Rwanda alone would not be able to accept anywhere near the number of people who will be scheduled for ‘removal’.

“A growing number of people will be left in limbo as they cannot be removed, and they cannot claim asylum.

“The cost to the taxpayer will continue to increase as the individuals left in limbo are housed in various accommodation indefinitely.

“There is a severe lack of asylum and immigration solicitors to represent those who are subject to removal orders," added Lubna Shuja.

“Whilst the government launched a consultation on raising legal aid fees for work covered by the Act, it does not go anywhere near far enough to tackle the capacity crisis.

“Nor is it going to overcome the practical difficulties of individuals who are facing removal having just eight days to secure legal advice and bring a suspensive claim. If they are detained in offshore barges for example, it will be extremely difficult for them to access a lawyer.

“We are concerned that this is yet another Act which has threatened our international obligations and it is unclear whether those obligations will be met,” said Lubna Shuja.

“There will be serious repercussions if they are not. The government must ensure the Act complies with international law to sustain trust in the integrity of our legal system.

“Overriding our international obligations is not acceptable practice.”

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