Channel migrants could be held in Manston for up to four days

Manston migrant processing center saw number of arrivals hit 4,000 in November – HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS

Channel migrants could be held at Manston’s asylum claims processing center for up to 96 hours, under plans by ministers to change the law amid a wave of crossings.

The Home Office is facing multiple legal actions over holding migrants at the asylum center in Kent for more than the current legal limit of 24 hours, after numbers reached 4,000 in November, almost three times its maximum capacity .

It comes after the number of migrants crossing the Channel this year is estimated to have exceeded 44,000, with around 800 on Wednesday following 884 on Tuesday and 426 on Monday. That compares to 28,500 for last year.

The legal change would mean Channel migrants could be held for 72 hours or three days – and potentially 96 hours or four days – as a means of giving officials more flexibility to process migrants if they face further unprecedented waves of arrivals across the Channel. Sleeve. Both options are thought to be on the table.

Ministers are considering using a statutory instrument in Parliament to amend “short-term detention facility rules” which currently limit the time an asylum-seeker can be held to “no more than 24 hours”. It can be extended to five days but only in “exceptional circumstances” and if authorized by the interior minister.

The move is likely to be challenged by lawyers as a violation of the asylum seekers’ human rights. The Home Office is already facing five lawsuits on behalf of migrants detained over 24 hours, which it fears could cost the government millions of pounds in compensation. Some had been held at the center for four weeks.

A sensible change of rules

Ministers have overseen an overhaul of the center from last month’s chronic overcrowding with the site virtually emptied of asylum seekers since Tuesday night despite surging numbers. Migrants are transferred to hotels or other accommodations.

However, Sir Roger Gale, the Conservative MP whose North Thanet constituency covers the centre, has advocated a change in the rules as a reasonable contingency.

“I don’t want anyone to be kept longer than necessary, but if there’s a sudden influx and you have to move them, it could take longer than 24 hours under certain circumstances, especially if they need to be screened to make sure they haven’t had any infections.” , he said.

“The idea that someone can sue the government if you keep them in Manston for 36 hours rather than 24 hours and they are entitled to compensation is clearly wrong. It makes no sense given the cost to the taxpayer.”

Questioned by the prime minister on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak promised to bring in “any new power that we need” to fight the Channel crossings. He was responding to Conservative MP Paul Bristow who urged him to set up a Cobra-style emergency committee to deal with the “national emergency” of Channel crossings.

Rishi Sunak speaks to prime minister's questions on Wednesday

Rishi Sunak speaks to prime minister’s questions on Wednesday

The Prime Minister said: “I share my honorable friend’s frustration and want to reassure him that we will do whatever is necessary to reduce the number of illegal crossings into this country [and] take all the new powers we need.

It was speculated Wednesday evening that Sunak may have a one-on-one phone call with Edi Rama, the Albanian prime minister, on Thursday to discuss illegal immigration. Albanians accounted for more than 12,000 – or 30% – of the Channel’s migrants this year.

Ministers are trying to develop a fast-track deportation route to return Albanians to a country they deem ‘safe’, while Mr Rama has pushed for a deal including a German-style work visa scheme for Albanians who come to the United Kingdom. Number 10 last night played down the prospect of a call today.

Multiple cases of diphtheria were reported among asylum seekers in Staffordshire on Wednesday, where nine hotels are being used to house them. All migrants arriving in the UK are offered vaccinations and those with symptoms can isolate themselves in hotels or special isolation units in Manston. There have been 50 confirmed cases so far.

A government spokesman said: ‘Home Office staff have worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances to find alternative accommodation as quickly as possible for those on trial in Manston.

“The site remains at acceptable capacity levels and improvements continue to be made to ensure it has adequate resources to process migrants safely and securely.

“The global migration crisis continues to place unprecedented and unsustainable pressure on our asylum system, which is why we remain focused on discouraging illegal migration and eliminating the criminal gangs responsible for these dangerous crossings.”

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