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Ireland’s asylum-seeker influx shows UK Rwanda plan having impact — Sunak

By AFP - Apr 28,2024 - Last updated at Apr 28,2024

Migrants react as a French police officer stands by ready to puncture the smuggler’s boat with a knife to prevent migrants from embarking in an attempt to cross the English Channelon the beach of Gravelines, near Dunkirk, northern France on Friday (AFP photo)

LONDON — An influx of asylum seekers into Ireland from the UK is evidence that London’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is acting as a deterrent, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

Ireland’s Minister of Justice Helen McEntee told a parliamentary committee this week that she estimates around 80 per cent of those applying for asylum in her country came over the land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

Sunak told Sky News, in comments released Saturday but that will air Sunday, that it showed his controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was “already having an impact” as a deterrent.

“Illegal migration is a global challenge, which is why you’re seeing multiple countries talk about doing third country partnerships,” Sunak told Sky News.

“But what it also shows, I think, is that the deterrent is... already having an impact because people are worried about coming here,” he added.

“If people come to our country illegally, but know that they won’t be able to stay there, much less likely to come, and that’s why the Rwanda scheme is so important.”

The Rwanda bill cleared its final parliamentary hurdle on Monday, after a marathon tussle between the upper and lower chambers of parliament lasting late into the night.

Sunak hopes the bill will prevent asylum seekers from trying to enter the UK illegal by making small boat crossings of the Channel from northern Europe.

Immigration is set to be a key issue in a general election due this year, with Sunak’s Tories currently languishing in the polls.

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