Sunak and Braverman
The PM and Home Secretary will defend the migration bill in Parliament tonight Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

The government's newly-proposed Illegal Migration Bill may be "incompatible" with The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), according to an immigration expert.

Rubin Italia, a solicitor who specialises in criminal law and immigration, says the legislation is an illegal attempt from the government to stop asylum seekers from seeking refuge.

The controversial new bill will be debated in Parliament tonight, where backbenchers will reportedly delay making amendments for fear of scuppering the legislation's progress.

It is currently in the Committee Stage, where a detailed examination of the bill takes place. If successful, it will then enter the Report Stage, where all MPs can suggest amendments to the bill or new clauses they think should be added.

The proposed legislation aims to "prevent and deter unlawful migration, and in particular migration by unsafe and illegal routes, by requiring the removal of certain persons who enter or arrive in the United Kingdom in breach of immigration control".

It follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's pledge to "stop the boats" - one of his five key priorities announced in January 2023.

The Bill would give Border Force officers new powers to detain almost everyone who crosses the English Channel for at least 28 days. People would face removal to either their own country of origin or a safe third country without consideration of their asylum claim.

Immigration solicitor Italia suggests that these new regulations fail to consider that persecuted refugees often do not have the means to make legal immigration applications or obtain visas.

"Making legal applications risk alerting authorities in refugees' home countries where they face persecution", Italia added.

Currently, when claiming refuge, there is no requirement that refugees arrive legally, and asylum seekers who do not arrive via legal channels are not considered illegal migrants.

However, the government has expressed concern at the increasing number of asylum-seekers entering the UK irregularly. In 2022, 45,700 people crossed the Channel in small boats, as compared with 28,500 in 2021, and 8,500 in 2020. It also highlights that the annual cost of the system is £3 billion, including £6 million spent a day on housing.

Many Tory backbenchers, described as "rebels" over the bill, believe it won't go far enough to decrease immigration numbers, threatening to cause a new split within the Conservative party.

The rebels, led by Danny Kruger, Boris Johnson's former political secretary, have warned they will bring back hardline amendments if ministers fail to make good on their promise to address their concerns.

Senior government sources have even suggested that the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, may secretly be fuelling a rebellion to force the Prime Minister into hardening up the bill.

According to Italia, the proposed legislation in its current form would violate the ECHR, by removing basic human rights from refugees, migrants and victims of slavery and human trafficking.

The Bill is prefaced with a "Section 19 Statement", as the Home Secretary was unable to state that the provisions of the Bill are compatible with rights under the ECHR.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a strongly-worded statement expressing its 'profound concern' over the Bill.

Rights groups and the United Nations also said the legislation would make Britain itself an international outlaw under European and UN conventions on asylum. However, today the Prime Minister promised he would not "ignore" the ECHR.

"It's important that we abide by our international obligations. This is a country and a government that does follow the law," said Sunak. Despite this, Italia believes that if enacted, the Bill will face "significant legal challenges".