Nearly 450 asylum seekers made it across the Channel on the day the first deportation flight to Rwanda was due.
Asylum seekers have continued to cross in their hundreds over the last couple of weeks, despite it being known that the deportations to the east African country were meant to begin this week.
Ministry of Defence figures show that yesterday 444 people crossed in 11 small boats.
It is the highest number in a day since the plans of deportations to Rwanda were announced on April 14 although on that day there were 562.
The first one-way plane to Rwanda was due to go last night but was grounded after last-minute rulings from the European Court of Human Rights.
By 10pm only one person was set to leave on board the 200-capacity plane after a series of legal challenges for individual asylum seekers.
In the hours before the booked flight demonstrators stopped vehicles believed to be transporting asylum seekers leaving a immigration facility at Manston.
Despite this setback the British government says it is determined to pursue the policy.
A total 189 people made it across the English Channel on five vessels from Monday last week to Sunday.
In the week of May 30 to June 5, 658 people got across in 20 small boats, according to Ministry of Defence figures.
Last April the British government announced a partnership with Rwanda, in which it would take asylum seekers deemed to have arrived in Britain illegally, which would usually affect people arriving in small boats.
They would be flown one way and apply for asylum to stay in that country rather than the UK.
The policy has provoked widespread protest but Home Secretary Priti Patel says this has to be done to stop what the government sees as abuse of the immigration system.
Small boat crossing have increase since they first began regularly four years ago.
According to the figures from the Home Office, in 2021, some 28,256 people made the crossing. In 2018 the figure was just 299.
The Ministry of Defence has since this spring taken over releasing figures.
It says that From May 1 this year, to June 12, the numbers making the crossing added up to 3,437, the equivalent of almost 100 a day.
"Access to asylum must be based on need, not on ability to pay smugglers..."
The government explains it is also concerned about people being exploited by people traffickers and the deadly dangers of these sea crossings.
Last November 27 people died after their dinghy capsized off Calais.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said of the latest developments: “Earlier this year, I signed a world-leading Migration Partnership with Rwanda to see those arriving dangerously, illegally, or unnecessarily into the UK relocated to build their lives there.
"This will help break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life, while ensuring protection for the genuinely vulnerable.
“Access to the UK’s asylum system must be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. The demands on the current system, the cost to the taxpayer, and the flagrant abuses are increasing, and the British public have rightly had enough.
“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant yesterday's flight was unable to depart.
“It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.
"These repeated legal barriers are similar to those we experience with other removals flights and many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next."
"We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders. Our legal team are reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparation for the next flight begins now.”
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke has already expressed support for the British Government's policy: "The Channel Crossings put lives at risk in the hands of ruthless criminal gangs.
"The action being taken by our Government to bring these dangerous crossings to an end is the compassionate, common sense and right thing to do.
"It's disappointing to see the courts being misused by political activists who support uncontrolled immigration.
"There is no need for anyone to get on a small boat. People are safe in France and many other places before France."
Phil Kerton, co-director of the Deal-based group Seeking Sanctuary, said: “It's the duty of governments under the Refugee Convention, to allow people to make asylum claims and consider them properly, not just to brush them aside and say that we're not going to consider them or that we'll send them somewhere else.
"I worry for the migrants’ mental health, having faced so much hardship already..."
" It's an appalling desertion of international obligations.”
"I worry for the migrants’ mental health, having faced so much hardship already.
"From what I've heard from people who've been visiting those held in detention centres, they are in a terrible mental state, with all the traumas that they ran away from brought back.
"There are countries from which well over 80% of UK asylum claims succeed, when they are processed properly, yet many of these feature on the original list of people being sent to Rwanda. The list seems to have been put together hurriedly, without the promised consideration of the special needs of the most vulnerable."
"Our government seems to have lost all the sense of shared responsibility for those in need that, in the past, moved us to respond generously to asylum seekers and uphold their dignity as individual fellow humans.
"The Rwanda plan has been presented as a humanitarian response to combat people trafficking and smuggling, but rather than catching and punishing criminals it is resulting in more suffering for those who are already victims."
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