The number of illegal immigrants who entered the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats has reached 15,000 so far this year, official figures show.
It comes as the high court is hearing a challenge brought against the government’s new policy to put eligible illegal immigrants, including asylum seekers, on one-way flights to Rwanda.
On Monday, 330 people in seven boats were escorted ashore by British authorities, bringing the total number this year to 15,107, according to official figures compiled by PA News Agency.
Crossings continued for 11 consecutive days by Monday—the longest successive run so far in 2022. There have been crossing detected on 13 of the 18 days so far this month.
The highest daily total for 2022 to date was recorded on April 13 when 651 people made the crossing in 18 boats.
The highest monthly total for 2022 to date was recorded in June when 3,136 arrived in 76 boats.
According to Home Office figures, the number of channel-crossing immigrants soared in recent years, with 28,526 people detected arriving on small boats in 2021, compared to 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019, and 299 in 2018.
A record 1,185 people made the crossing to the UK on Nov. 11, 2021—the highest figure recorded since the start of 2020.
Cumulative successful arrivals in the UK by people crossing the English Channel in small boats. (PA Graphics)
Since the UK’s exit from the European Union, few illegal immigrants who came via safe countries in Europe were successfully returned to Europe.
In April, the British government signed a new deal with Rwanda allowing the UK to ship eligible illegal arrivals to the east African country in order to deter dangerous Channel crossing, with an initial flight chartered for June 14, reportedly costing £500,000.
But some 47 people who were meant to be on the Boeing 767 were crossed off the list one by one following their lawyers’ challenges, and the flight was effectively grounded after the European Court of Human Rights made a last-minute intervention by removing the last remaining passenger from the flight.
In written submissions filed for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday on behalf of four charities and eight individuals, Raza Husain QC said that recently provided documents showed that Rwanda had initially been excluded from the shortlist of potential countries “on human rights grounds.”
In a report (pdf) published on Monday, Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee criticised the Home Office for making policy announcements “before detailed policy has been worked through, tested, and even agreed between government departments.”
The report said “much more clarity is required” on the Rwanda policy, including the cost, the effectiveness of the tactic in deterring channel crossings, and how to ensure the long-term mental and physical well-being of those relocated.
According to data from the UN’s refugee agency, at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2021.