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Dozens of asylum seekers are days from being told they will be deported to Rwanda, it emerged today, as a new Yorkshire reception centre for 1,500 migrants is expected to open in a village where locals will soon be outnumbered by two-to-one.
As 35 migrants arrived in Dover by dinghy this morning, some illegal immigrants already in Britain will be told they will be sent to Africa and will have only a week to provide detailed reasons as to why they should not be removed from the UK.
Ministers are said to be ready to give ‘notice of intent’ warnings to around 50 people telling them they will be flown to Rwanda and ‘supported to build a new life there’ if they don’t withdraw their asylum application and agree to return to their country of origin.
The Home Office declined to comment on claims the deportation orders are imminent – but is readying itself for a legal battle over the policy.
A spokesman said: ‘We are fully committed to working with Rwanda to get the arrangement operational as soon as possible.’
Asylum claims have more than doubled in a year and hit the highest level for nearly two decades, figures released last Friday showed.
To cope with the numbers, the Government is planning to open a new reception centre in Yorkshire, which they say will house migrants arriving in the UK to end reliance on hotels that are costing the taxpayer almost £5million a day. No date has been set but it has widely been reported it could be this week.
The first 60 of what could eventually be 1,500 young men are expected to arrive at the hastily-converted former RAF base by the end of the month, and they will be there for up to six months while their asylum applications are processed. They will have a swimming pool, five-a-side football pitches, a cinema and regular shuttle buses into York,
Locals say the plans will ‘destroy’ the village of Linton-on-Ouse, which only had 750 residents.
One told the BBCshe was frightened, adding: ‘There will be a two-to-one ratio of seekers to villagers – mainly young men aged between 18 and 40’. Jonathan Ridley, whose farm backs on to the site, said: ‘Boredom is going to be a big factor’, adding there are real fears that gangs of asylum seekers will be hanging around ‘intimidating’ villagers.
A child was among 30 migrants who arrived by dinghy at Dover today as some already in the country are about to be told they will be deported to Rwanda
Linton on Ouse, 10 miles from York, where the RAF base on the left of the picture will house migrants, many of whom have arrived by boat
Furious residents have taken to the streets to protest plans to house up to up 1,500 asylum seekers in their sleepy village, Linton on Ouse in North Yorkshire
Home Office officials told a meeting earlier this month the men on the former RAF base will not be detained and will be free to leave, however there would be security on the gate. This woman was in tears as she spoke against the plan
Number of migrants to cross the Channel by boat was THREE TIMES higher in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2021 as 4,540 arrived in the UK
The number of migrants to cross the Channel by boat was three times higher in the first three months of 2022 than during the same time last year, with 4,540 people arriving in the UK.
A report by the Home Office published today said in January to March this year there was an average of 32 people on each boat, compared to 18 people per boat in the same months last year.
The number of boats making the journey has also almost doubled from 74 to 141 during the same time period, with crossings taking place on 30 out of 90 days.
And these numbers show no sign of falling, with the Ministry of Defence saying more than 2,600 migrants in 87 boats have crossed the Channel in May alone.
That’s despite bad weather out at sea forcing a temporary break in crossings between May 9 and May 14, something that will become more uncommon as waters get calmer in Summer.
It comes after it was reported that some migrants are being forced onto rafts made of multiple dinghies taped together as people smugglers use dangerous new tactics to boost the numbers they’re sending across the Channel.
Desperate families making their way from France to the UK are being put in increasingly dangerous situations as human traffickers tell them it was their ‘last chance’ to get to the UK before the Rwanda scheme.
Dr Olga Matthias, spokesman for the Linton-on-Ouse Action Group, said: ‘The Home Office, which should be at the forefront of the overarching objective of government – to keep its citizens safe – has set out to destroy this community and our way of life.
‘With no consultation, no planning permission and no risk assessments on any front, and despite overwhelming opposition from all sides, they are ploughing ahead with an insane plan to place 1,500 asylum seekers in a rural village.’
The Home Office said there were 55,146 asylum applications in the year to March, not including dependents – up 102 per cent on the previous 12 months and up 56 per cent on pre-pandemic levels. Of those, 31,703 arrived by small boat across the Channel. Deportations slumped for the ninth year in a row, down 18 per cent year on year to 2,800 – the lowest on record.
Around 35 people in a dinghy were escorted to Dover, Kent on board Border Force cutter Hurricane shortly after 1pm – among them was a young toddler wearing a white, dalmatian-patterned onesie.
The mostly-male group could be seen being led along the gangway for processing by UK officials.
The latest arrivals mark the first small boat crossing since May 23, when 252 people reached British soil, due to wet and stormy weather at sea.
Poor weather conditions have made it impossible to attempt the crossing until now.
Despite a seven-day break in migrants attempting to cross the English Channel, data released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reveals that 2,637 people have reached the UK in 87 boats so far this month.
Locals from Linton-on-Ouse have met with officials from Priti Patel’s department and North Yorkshire Police about the plan to house 1,500 asylum seekers on the base.
Some of those present at a public meeting a fortnight ago burst into tears after officials said the first asylum seekers could arrive in the former RAF training base before the end of the month.
The Home Secretary’s plan is opposed by local Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake. He has quizzed PM Boris Johnson in the Commons.
The MP for Thirsk and Malton claimed the proposal would ‘devastate the community’ as residents will not feel ‘safe to leave their homes alone’.
The Tory led Hambleton District Council is planning a judicial review of the government’s plan ‘immediately’.
Asylum seekers staying at the centre will be moved on after six months.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Office is listening carefully to feedback and is committed to widening engagement with key local stakeholders to ensure we minimize impact on the community and services, and the site is being designed to be as self-sufficient as possible.
‘Our New Plan for Immigration will fix the UK’s broken asylum system, allowing us to support those in genuine need while preventing abuse of the system and deterring illegal entry to the UK.’
Campaigners have launched a protest against Government plans to open an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Linton-on-Ouse, north Yorkshire
Residents attending a public meeting in the parish hall a fortnight ago complained about the impact the asylum seekers would have on their community
Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to house up to 1,500 asylum seekers on the former RAF Linton-on-Ouse
But while Home Office officials tried to allay residents’ fears about the centre, which ministers have previously claimed would ‘provide safe and self-sufficient accommodation’, they were met with constant jeers and shouts of ‘rubbish’ from unimpressed locals.
Previously, locals had accused Ms Patel of ‘dropping a bomb’ on the village.
One woman, who was in tears as she spoke, said: ‘Villagers are in crisis. People are upset and people are leaving their homes. My property is the first ‘owned’ property (next to the centre) where everyone will come and go. They will stand outside my property.’
Residents heard how security officers will guard entrances to the site, where CCTV will also be installed, but that asylum seekers will not be ‘detained’ inside the centre.
Detective Chief Inspector David Hunter added two police officers will patrol the village daily between 8.30am and midnight when the first asylum seekers arrive in Linton-on-Ouse.
One resident objected to the increased police presence, saying: ‘We do not want police in the village – we don’t want it to change from a sleepy village.’
Virginia Sharpe said the prospect of 1,500 men arriving in a village of around 600 people left her feeling ‘intimidated’.
She told Yorkshire Live: ‘We have a right to not have to change our lives so drastically because of something that no-one knew about until it was dropped on us like a bombshell, with no consultation.’
‘We think it is totally unfair. If I was walking down the street and came across a group of single young men – of any background – I would feel intimidated. A lot of women in this village are worried.’
Some of those got visibly emotional during the heated meeting where Home Office officials and North Yorkshire Police attempted to
The Home Office said a ‘considered assessment’ had taken place before the site at Linton-on-Ouse was found to be feasible
Richard Burke said: ‘I am really, really worried for families and children. My wife enjoys walking our dogs two or three times a day but she won’t be going out on her own (when the centre opens) because she will feel intimidated.
Thirsk and Morton MP Kevin Hollinrake, pictured, questioned his party leader Boris Johnson at PMQs, claiming residents would not be safe ‘leaving their homes alone’
‘The single and only criteria that seems to have been considered here is the availability of the site. There has been zero consultation. It has just been dropped on us. Given the numbers that they are talking about bringing in, I can’t see how it would ever work.’
The Home Office said a ‘considered assessment’ had taken place before the site at Linton-on-Ouse was found to be feasible.
But officials accepted they would need ‘to work through’ individual concerns with residents in order to ‘bring everyone together’. It is understood residents will be invited to visit the centre before it opens where they will be given the chance to raise any concerns with officials.
But one resident at the meeting said villagers feel ‘like a child that is being blamed for something they did not do.’ They added: ‘You are not grasping the concept of what you are doing to our village.’
Another woman in the audience was applauded when she said: ‘Whatever you say, you are not going to give residents any peace of mind.’
Another resident added: ‘Are they allowed the freedom of the village? Where is the security? Individuals can go where they want. Who is supervising them?’
A senior North Yorkshire Police officer said patrols have been increased and his officers will be taking heed of residents’ concerns.
He added that two police officers would be on patrol between 8.30 and midnight every day.
Zoe Metcalfe, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said this would be in place when 60 asylum seekers were at the site.
She said that she didn’t want anyone to feel unsafe in their community, explaining: ‘I am not far away. We are going to do everything we can to make you feel safe.’
A resident claimed a police officer had told women to not wear short skirts outside, but Metcalfe said that it was unacceptable behaviour from the officer.
And another member of the audience was applauded when they said: ‘People are upset. 1,500 men are coming to our village of 600 adults.
‘What are you doing to carry out a proper impact assessment?’
The Linton-on-Ouse Action Group (LoOAG) commended a no-confidence vote in the Home Office, which was passed overwhelmingly by North Yorkshire county councillors in mid-May.
Hambleton District Council previously announced it is looking at legal action over the plan. It is understood the centre will open as soon as it is able to if the target of May 31 is not met.