Scottish Government demands no asylum seekers sent to Rwanda amid detentions

There are reports of at least two people being detained in Glasgow and removed to England by the Home Office.

Scottish Government demands no asylum seekers sent to Rwanda amid detentions Getty Images

Scotland’s social justice secretary has demanded the UK Government ceases its immigration enforcement operations after reports of several people being detained in Glasgow.

Shirley-Anne Somerville has written to home secretary James Cleverly after reports that the Home Office had removed suspected migrants and sent to England.

She said communities across the country were being “placed under stress” by recent immigration enforcement operations.

She urged Cleverly to provide assurances that no further action would be taken to detain people resident in Scotland for potential removal to Rwanda.

Home secretary James Cleverly has been sent a letter by the Scottish social justice secretary.Getty Images

The UK Government is planning to send some migrants to the African nation as part of its strategy to deter what it says is illegal immigration, particularly from small boat crossing along the English Channel.

Plans are also ongoing to expand the scheme to include failed asylum seekers in the UK.

Somerville said she had been contacted by Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin who said one of her constituents had been detained as part of immigration enforcement.

McLaughlin said a 21-year-old migrant was detained in the city and taken to England, adding that she was unable to get information from the Home Office in relation to his status.

SNP justice spokesperson Chris Stephens also said one of his constituents from Glasgow South West had been “removed from Scotland to England and threatened with deportation”.

“It is clear therefore that individuals resident in Scotland have been detained as part of this process and communities across Scotland have been placed under stress,” she wrote.

“This situation is intolerable both for the individuals concerned and for the wider community. It is essential that the UK Government respects the rights of individuals, including their ability to access advice and support.”

Somerville sought assurances from Cleverly that moving people in Scotland to detention centres in England would not disrupt their access to legal advice.

She also asked for clarification over whether those detained by immigration officers in Scotland could be sent to Rwanda.

The social justice secretary said: “I recognise that immigration enforcement and detention is a reserved issue but the Scottish Government is responsible for community safety and wellbeing in Scotland.”

The Rwanda scheme is part of Rishi Sunak's strategy to clamp down on illegal immigration.STV News

She said while she recognised that it is right that immigration is controlled and enforcement is necessary, action taken by the Home Office fell out of line with the “values of the people of Scotland”.

She added: “Targeting vulnerable individuals seeking refuge is not about safeguarding our communities instead it is causing anxiety and distress.

“I would welcome an urgent discussion to clarify what action the UK Government is planning to take to reassure communities; how they are safeguarding the rights of individuals and confirmation that no further action is planned to detain people resident in Scotland for potential removal to Rwanda.”

On Tuesday, the UK justice secretary denied that asylum seekers at risk of being deported are not being removed from Scotland to England to deny them legal aid.

During justice questions in the Commons, SNP home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewliss questioned if it was the Government’s “deliberate policy” to move asylum seekers in order to prevent them challenging a potential removal, including to Rwanda.

In England and Wales, 25% of the population is eligible to receive legal aid, in contrast to Scotland, where 75% of the population is eligible to receive legal aid, according to a report from the Signet Library.

The Government is seeking to get flights to send migrants to Rwanda off the ground by July, after the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act became law last month.

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