Home Secretary Priti Patel's plan appears to be working despite its widely critical response
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 Asylum seekers are abandoning their attempts to stay in the UK because they are afraid they might be sent to Rwanda, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

Up to ten migrants have already asked to be returned home rather than risk having their claims for refugee status assessed in the central African nation.

They had begun the asylum process here but withdrew their applications after the Government announced the controversial new policy last month.

The news is a boost to Home Secretary Priti Patel as it offers the first sign that her plan – aimed at deterring migrants from making the perilous journey across the Channel – is beginning to work. This newspaper can also reveal that almost 100 migrants have now been given notices that they will be transported to Rwanda.

Home Secretary Priti Patel's plan appears to be working despite its widely critical response

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plan appears to be working despite its widely critical response

Home Office officials hope the number abandoning their claims will increase rapidly once the first flights to Rwanda begin – possibly as early as next month.

‘It’s a positive start,’ said a Government source. ‘We always said we need to get the flights going before it becomes a deterrent, but this shows the direction we’re heading and why we introduced the policy.’

It emerged yesterday that some asylum seekers will be put up at the three-star Rouge by Desir hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali, which has a swimming pool, tennis court, gym and access to a golf course.

According to The Sun, others are expected to be housed at the Hallmark Residence, also in Kigali, which has three and four-bed bungalows and has put aside 102 rooms for migrants. The more basic Hope Hostel, which is being renovated, is also likely to be used.

Those notified of the Home Office’s intention to remove them to Rwanda have seven days to submit a legal challenge. It is understood that at least 20 appeals have been lodged, although only two cases have been made public.

Lawyers are expected to fight the removals with the same determination they use to challenge the deportation of foreign criminals. The first flights to Rwanda have already been delayed by a legal appeal from a coalition of charities and a trade union representing immigration officials.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister

‘The Rwanda flights will be the same as the charter planes for criminals, with legal claims right up until the last minute,’ predicted another Home Office insider. ‘But even if some are going it will be helpful. The precedent needs to be set.’

No flights are expected to leave before June 6, although No 10 is said to want to have deported the first migrants before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda on June 20.

Under a £120 million deal unveiled last month, Rwanda will process asylum claims and ‘settle or remove’ them in line with Rwandan and international law. The Home Office reportedly expects about 300 people to be deported to Rwanda each year.

A boat carrying 41 migrants was detected in the Channel on Friday, while 106 migrants crossed in three boats on Thursday. Around 9,000 have crossed so far this year.

Last night, Tory MP Gary Sambrook – one of the wave of Tories who won so-called ‘Red Wall’ Labour seats at the 2019 Election – hailed the plan’s progress

The Birmingham Northfield MP said: ‘Priti Patel has been proved right about how to tackle illegal migration and the evil smuggler gangs. Like Australia has in the past, we are now taking the difficult decisions to be firm but fair with the way we deter illegal migration.’

Fellow Tory MP James Grundy, who seized the traditional Labour seat of Leigh in 2019, said it was ‘heartening‘ to see signs the policy was working, adding: ‘Everyone supports legal and genuine immigration. But it’s important we break these evil trafficking gangs who are no better than modern slavers and who are profiteering from the human misery of people crossing the Channel.’

Marco Longhi, who made history in 2019 by taking Dudley North from Labour, said: ‘Offshore processing was the most important success factor when Australia put a stop to illegal immigration and so it is proving here in the UK.

‘I’m confident that the scheme will be implemented in a way that lawyers cannot unpick, and that it will deliver on our promise to control our borders. Outside of London and the dining tables of Leftie lawyers, this is a hugely popular policy which is now seeing real progress.’

Ms Patel and Dr Biruta last week faced down United Nations agencies that have also been sharply critical of the scheme

Ms Patel and Dr Biruta last week faced down United Nations agencies that have also been sharply critical of the scheme

The policy has been criticised by Left-leaning critics, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who used his Easter Day sermon to attack the plans as ungodly.

In a highly political intervention, he claimed that the scheme raised ‘serious ethical questions’ and ‘cannot stand the judgment of God’ or ‘carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values’.

The broadside led to Boris Johnson accusing the Archbishop of being more vociferous in his criticism of the policy than of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – comments which the Church of England branded a ‘disgraceful slur’.

Meanwhile, Ms Patel and Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, last week faced down United Nations agencies that have also been sharply critical of the scheme.

The Home Secretary and Dr Biruta travelled to Geneva to urge the UN refugee agency to stop rubbishing the policy, saying there was an ‘urgent moral imperative’ to send migrants to Rwanda. They said those criticising their policy were failing to offer viable alternatives to repair a ‘broken’ global asylum system.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, left, and Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel, right, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, left, and Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, right, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch, last night cautiously welcomed the reports that asylum seekers were abandoning their claims, saying: ‘If the scheme is having an effect then I welcome that.

‘Rwanda is not the whole solution but I think it is a necessary part of what ultimately discourages people from jumping into dinghies, risking their lives and paying traffickers to do it.’

He said Mr Welby’s criticism of the policy had been ‘totally inappropriate’, adding: ‘I also feel it was unkind in a way that you wouldn’t expect the Archbishop to be.

‘Priti Patel has been lambasted for not getting a grip of the Channel crisis but the moment she does something serious in an attempt to stem it everyone turns on her. Do people want this to continue? Do they want numbers crossing the Channel to increase?’

The Home Office said: ‘We are putting this plan into action and have started to notify those who are in scope to be relocated to Rwanda, with more notified this week. The first flight is expected to take place in the coming months.’

A Home Office source said: ‘All of our focus is on getting the first flight off the ground as that’s when the deterrent effect will really kick in.

‘But it’s clearly already having an effect’.

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