Calling the Illegal Migration Bill "cruel" and "unworkable", London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the UK's Home Secretary Suella Braverman that more than 50,000 people will be at risk of homelessness in the British capital if it becomes a law.
In a letter to the Indian-origin Home Secretary, Khan said the bill "would do significant damage to vulnerable people seeking sanctuary and put already-stretched services in London on crisis footing", the Evening Standard reported.
Proposals under the Illegal Migration Bill, introduced in Parliament this year, would stop people entering the country in unauthorised boats across the English Channel.
In addition, they will be detained and then promptly removed -- either to their home country or to a safe third country.
While Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sought to frame the bill as a move to stop traffickers from taking advantage of prospective immigrants, the Mayor warned that it could "end up handing power to human traffickers, undermine crucial child protections, and leave people in immigration limbo, rather than have their requests for sanctuary heard".
"It is clear that the current asylum system is broken and this bill will serve only to deepen the challenge, which could result in 50,000 people over the next three years left in London, unable to access support, work or legitimate avenues to fend for themselves," Khan wrote to Braverman.
Of those arriving illegally via small boats, Indians form a sizable chunk with the country recently witnessing a spike in their numbers.
The Home Office data showed that 683 Indians arrived in the UK on small boats in 2022, as compared to 67 in 2021.
The majority of "irregular arrivals" from India were men in between the ages of 25 and 40, out of a total of 45,755 in 2022, which included Albanian, Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi nationals.
According to an assessment by UK-based charity Refugee Council of the consequences of the first three years of implementation of the Illegal Migration Bill, over 190,000 people could be locked up or forced into destitution under the government's new crackdown on desperate people seeking safety and sanctuary.
As many as 45,000 children could be locked up in the UK, after having their asylum claims deemed inadmissible, and around 9 billion pounds will be spent over three years on locking up refugees in detention centres and accommodating people who can't be removed to other countries.
While provisions in the bill say that people who arrive illegally will be detained for 28 days before they are deported, Braverman had said there will be a few exceptions for children, people who are medically unfit to fly, or those who are at risk.
Once deported, the individuals will be banned from returning to the UK or applying for British citizenship in the future.
The Refugee Council said there is little to no evidence to suggest this new plan will be an effective deterrent to people crossing the Channel in small boats.
While the Opposition Labour has raised doubts about the legality and feasibility of the bill, the Liberal Democrats said the Conservatives have drawn up "another half-baked plan".
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