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Undocumented Migrants: English Channel

Question for Home Office

UIN 40965, tabled on 28 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make it her policy that illegal immigrants detained in the UK after crossing the English Channel from France are either required to be returned immediately to France or placed in quarantine in the UK for fourteen days during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

Answered on

18 May 2020

We only detain people where it is absolutely necessary and there is always a presumption on liberty.

Decisions to detain are made on a case-by-case basis and kept under constant review but it is only right that we protect the public from high-harm individuals, which is why the vast majority of those in detention are foreign national offenders.

We are following public health advice and providing appropriate health care as it is needed. There is no evidence to show that there is an increased risk from migrants.

We continue to work in line with Public Health England guidance; migrants arriving by small boats are not specifically tested for coronavirus but are monitored for symptoms and will be provided with accommodation where they can isolate if needed.

As a result of COVID-19 the vast majority of EU member states have temporarily paused accepting returns under the Regulations, but we are tracking those individuals and where appropriate will seek to return them when routes are available.

The health of those in immigration removal centres is of the utmost importance and Immigration Enforcement are following the latest guidance from Public Health England. Measures such as protective isolation will be considered on a case by case basis to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading to vulnerable groups in the immigration detention estate. Further measures including shielding, single occupancy rooms and the cessation of social visits have been introduced in line with the Government direction on social distancing.

Answered by

Home Office
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