LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Britain’s Parliament has finally passed the Rwanda bill which will send some asylum seekers to the African country, a move a leading Catholic agency says is “as inhumane as it is absurd.”

The controversial bill was passed after months of back-and-forth between the House of Commons and House of Lords.

The Jesuit Refugee Service UK says it will continue to campaign for the UK to uphold its “responsibility towards refugees.”

JRS UK’s Director, Sarah Teather said the law will destroy lives, plunge vulnerable people into danger and sees us abandon our duty towards people seeking sanctuary here.

“And all for the sake of an election gimmick. This is not who we are,” she said.

“With the help of our supporters JRS UK will continue to oppose this and all attempts to outsource asylum. We remain at the side of women, men, and children whose rights are threatened by this cruel plan, and all those arriving in the UK in search of safety,” Teather said.

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Plans to forcibly and permanently transfer people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda, without first examining their claim, were initially announced in April 2022.

Recently, the UK’s Home Office has begun contacting people refused asylum and offering them “voluntary departure” to Rwanda.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released a statement saying the passage of the “landmark” bill represents “not just a step forward but a fundamental change in the global equation on migration.”

Sunak said the bill was introduced to “deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them.”

“Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives,” he said.

There are more than 55,500 asylum seekers who are in the UK after arriving since March 2023 in boats across the English Channel.

The prime minister said that the first flight would leave in 10-12 weeks and said the removal of asylum seekers arriving in Britain from the sea will continue “until the boats are stopped.”

251 organisations – including several Catholic groups – sent an open letter to Sunak protesting the passing of the Rwanda bill.

“The Rwanda plan will force people who have fled violence and persecution into detention centres where they may face abuse and mistreatment, with no time limit,” the letter says.

“Through this law, the Government will put them at grave risk of mental and physical harm, and of being returned to danger in the countries they fled,” it continues.

“Outsourcing our asylum system to other countries is never acceptable. It abandons our duty to share in the global responsibility towards those forced to seek safety. Instead of continuing down this dangerous path, the Government must guarantee that asylum claims will be heard fairly on our shores, and open safe routes so that people are not forced to take dangerous journeys,” the letter says.

RELATED: Catholic group calls UK attempt to send refugees to Rwanda ‘profoundly troubling’

“As organizations working towards a better future for all, we believe in kindness and compassion. The Government must listen to the people, abandon this deplorable deal with Rwanda and similar plans with other countries, and protect those who need sanctuary,” the letter reads.

JRS UK has also supported people in detention who have been threatened with forced removal to Rwanda.

Speaking following the Prime Minister’s announcement, JRS UK’s Detention Outreach Manager, Naomi Blackwell said the prospect of being forced on a plane to Rwanda is “deeply terrifying for refugees.”

“And in detention, people are often told nothing about what’s happening to them, it’s disproportionately difficult to get legal advice, they may not even have phone credit to ring someone to ask about it,” she said.

“Our politicians need to stop their theatrics and remember that there are actual people on the sharp end of this,” Blackwell said.

Follow Charles Collins on X: @CharlesinRome