UK asylum bill passes House of Commons second reading amid controversy

The UK House of Commons Monday approved the controversial Illegal Immigration Bill, which seeks to “prevent and deter unlawful migration,” by a vote of 312 to 249. The bill will now pass to the committee stage of the House of Commons.

Organizations like the Law Society of England and Wales have raised concerns that the bill would violate international law. Some of the provisions of the legislation include that migrants can be detained under new powers and can be removed to countries considered safe. Migrants with modern slavery cases would also be disqualified from protections against removal. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper stated that the bill denies children “any protection from modern slavery” and said the Labour Party would not support the bill. Alison Thewliss MP called the bill “an important dog whistle.”

In her statement to the House of Commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the UK is “expanding our detention capacity” but that the aim of the bill is “not to detain people but to swiftly remove them.” In a statement last week, however, Braverman was unable to confirm that the bill would compy with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. This admission of inadmissibility may invite legal challenges, as it breaches the UK’s international obligations and thus the rule of law under any of the convention to which it is a signatory.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May raised concerns about the UK’s detention capabilities under the bill, including the blanket dismissal of anyone who is facing persecution and finds their way to the UK. She commented, “there has to be no possibility of successful legal challenge.” She further stated that the bill “shouldn’t supersede” legislation, when the impact of it “is not yet known.”