British officials will begin placing electronic monitoring devices on some asylum-seekers who arrive in the country, according to a new one-year program announced this week.
The 12-month pilot program will test whether equipping immigrants with GPS trackers will allow the government to maintain regular contact with those facing deportation, as well as more accurately track violations of curfew and other rules. The policy comes in response to an influx of illegal immigration in Britain, posing a “significant challenge” to officials, the government said.
“There has been an unprecedented growth in irregular migration through unnecessary and dangerous routes, to the point where this represents a significant challenge to the operation of effective immigration control,” the policy reads. “Those arriving via such routes are a relatively unknown cohort to the Home Office, and we do not know much about their individual circumstances or the routes they have taken to travel to the UK.”
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The policy will target those who attempt to enter the country via the English Channel, a route that officials say is dangerous. More than 10,000 immigrants have entered Britain through the channel so far this year, and at least 27 died in one incident last November.
The program would target asylum-seekers who are released from holding centers on bail to ensure that for those who breach their contract, the government can “more effectively reestablish contact … or locate them for removal or detention if appropriate in their case.”
The program is also likely to tag those who have challenged being sent to Rwanda while they wait for the country to process its request for asylum, which many have challenged as “unlawful on multiple bases.” A court ordered the first flight transporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda, but it was stopped just before departure.
British officials have urged migrants to seek “safe and legal” alternatives, noting many are smuggled into the country via dangerous routes.
“Migrants are often told by smugglers that travelling to the UK will be safe and easy. In reality the journey puts people at serious risk of injury, abuse and exploitation. The journey is not only expensive, but dangerous,” the government said. “Don’t risk it. Choose a safe and legal alternative.”
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Asylum-seekers who are tagged will be expected to report to immigration or police centers regularly for check-ins. It’s not clear how many asylum-seekers will be tagged in the pilot program, but guidance suggests it will begin tagging adults who face deportation and exempt some pregnant women and children in its beginning stages.
There were 135,912 refugees, 83,489 pending asylum cases, and 3,968 stateless persons in the United Kingdom as of mid-2021, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.