Protestors stand up for refugees outside the Home Office in November (Picture: Stand up to Racism)

The Tories’ cruel and racist Rwanda deportation scheme was always a divisive way for the Tories to try to scapegoat refugees.

Rishi Sunak and the Tories have desperately tried to appeal to the right while their poll ratings crumble. All of this has only helped to encourage the far right and fascists.

At the heart of this rampage was the scheme that Sunak’s former home secretary Suella Braverman called her “obsession” and “dream”.

She—and the other Tories—hoped that if they couldn’t deter refugees by leaving them to drown in the English Channel, they could threaten to send them to Africa instead.

The intention is to send refugees on a one-way ticket to east Africa without any possibility of pressing their asylum claim. But there has been  complicated legal and parliamentary wrangling to get the policy passed. 

It was deemed “unfit for purpose” by the Supreme Court, which said Rwanda was unsafe because it might send refugees back to the countries they had originally fled from.

The Treaty with Rwanda, signed by new home secretary James Cleverly at the beginning of December, was followed by the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill. 

This was under discussion as Socialist Worker went to press—and had led to brutal Tory splits. These threatened the very existence of the Sunak government. 

The Tory in-fighting is about the most effective method to step up their racist assaults. They hope to use the Rwanda plan as a symbol of just how brutal they are prepared to be. The treaty clarifies the terms and conditions of moving refugees from Britain to Rwanda. 

One small change to the original plan in the bill means the government could resettle some “vulnerable” refugees in Britain after their claim is processed in Rwanda.

It also says, “Every decision-maker must conclusively treat the Republic of Rwanda as a safe country”. That means that—whatever the reality—immigration officers and courts cannot deem Rwanda unsafe, and appeals cannot be made on this basis. 

Some Tories want the bill to go even further.  Others are against it because it could lead to another round of legal challenges.

Meanwhile Labour moans that the scheme is “wrong” because it won’t lead to enough people being deported quickly enough.

Defence secretary Grant Shapps claimed that the Safety of Rwanda Bill should stop 99.5 percent of legal claims made by refugees.

No matter what the Tories think of the bill and scheme, the plan to deport and resettle refugees in a third country—safe or not—is racist and wrong. 

It can’t be left to Tory treaties and legal challenges to decide the future of refugees in Britain.  It’s time to reject and resist the Tories and their racism once and for all.

Protest Refugees welcome, safe passage now, Home Office, Marsham St, London, Mon 18 December, 5.30pm. Supported by Stand Up To Racism, PCS, NEU, NASUWT, TSSA unions, XR London, Peace & Justice Project, Stop the War, DPAC, Homes4All and more

Refugee says—‘I’m scared after receiving a Rwanda deportation letter’ 

The Tories’ racist squabbling has real impacts. Arin is a Kurdish refugee who came to Britain with his mum. He lives in a hotel in London and has been threatened with deportation to Rwanda.

“Claiming asylum wasn’t something I thought I’d have to do. “But coming here changed everything for me and my mum both in a good and a bad way,” Arin told Socialist Worker.

“We finally felt relieved and safe for the first time in a long time. The bad thing was our future wasn’t clear. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. Are we going to be in the asylum system forever? Do we get deported back to Iraq or another country?”

Eighteen months after arriving, Arin’s mum finally received refugee status. But the Home Office has separated them because he is still waiting for asylum.

“I received a letter telling me I’d be taken to Rwanda over a year ago,” he explained. Arin said that it was “so scary” to receive the letter. “I think I was the first guy in the hotel to receive it. 

“Nobody was able to help me or explain the situation to me. Fortunately someone then gave me Care4Calais’ number.

“It helped with explaining the situation. That gave me some peace of mind. In the meantime, I just wait, I guess.”

Arin says a lot of people find the asylum system very difficult to manage. 

“It takes quite a long time to be interviewed,” he said.

“Then when someone finally gets refugee status, they don’t actually know anything, like how to claim universal credit or housing, because they don’t know what it is or speak very limited English.”

Arin was told he’d be moved across London with just days’ notice before being told he’d be moved to the south coast. 

He is studying to be an electrician and wants to stay close to his mum.

“They tried to move me, but I said I won’t go. Since then I haven’t heard anything from the hotel on the matter.”

The Tories are hypocrites’ 

Mohamed left Libya in 2019 and arrived in Britain from France on a small boat at the beginning of 2022.

“It was not my plan to come to England, I first went to Malta but they wouldn’t take any refugees. I had friends here, and they said it would be better for me,” he told Socialist Worker.

Mohamed was kept in Dover for three days, then moved to Wolverhampton for three weeks. Since then he has lived in a hotel outside of Sheffield and has just received refugee status.

“Now I have to find somewhere to rent. The council might help me with a house, but I’m waiting for the last of my letters from the Home Office.

“I have friends who had to move from here because there was nowhere to live.”

Mohamed added, “I used to have 28 days to find somewhere else to live, but they keep changing the rules constantly. After two years, I feel nothing anymore.

“I’m happy that I’m safe, but I feel lost and confused. I had a plan, but now I don’t know anymore. I used to work but don’t know if I can now.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve worked. In Europe I used to do food delivery, and a long time ago, in Libya, I owned a restaurant. So now I don’t know what my plan is.”

Since being given his status, Mohamed has been to the job centre after not being able to work for almost two years.

“You start to lose your mind, and you’re made to feel parasitical. You have nothing to do all day—and without money you can’t go anywhere. It’s like being in a jail,” he explained.

“It was bad but other people struggle worse too. You don’t know what your future is, and you’re thinking about your situation.

“It’s even worse if you come from a country of war—you’re just remembering all the bad things. And my experience hasn’t been as bad as others. Things that happen in Europe—the way people have to live in forests—is stuff you wouldn’t believe.”

Mohamed left Libya because it was “kill or be killed”. “That’s why I left. I didn’t want to harm anyone. In my country in 2011 things went very bad when I was there.

“If you speak out about the corruption and the situation, it’s even worse for you.

“But I wouldn’t be here in the first place if it wasn’t the British government getting involved in my country. 

“All my life I hear about human rights, but they’re hypocrites because what they really want to do is send people like me to Rwanda or onto ships.

“The question of immigration involves a lot of corruption, especially with the slave trades, and wasted government money, both in Britain and Europe.

“Governments also blame immigrants for economic problems. I don’t blame the extreme right-wingers or normal people for their preconceptions—I blame the governments.”

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