Boris Johnson revealed the figure in an interview with the Daily Mail, saying he expected a lot of legal opposition but that the government would “dig in for the fight.”
People found to have entered the UK illegally now face being flown to Rwanda for resettlement under a new agreement.
The policy has received widespread criticism.
More than 160 charities, the Archbishop of Canterbury, opposition parties, and senior Conservative Party backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, have all spoken out against it.
They have raised concerns about the policy’s ethics, legality, cost, and efficacy.
The threat of deportation has also prompted some to self-harm, with one attempting suicide, according to the Red Cross and Refugee Council.
However, small boat crossings have continued. According to the most recent government data, 792 migrants arrived in small boats during the week of May 2-8.
The Home Office announced earlier this week that it would begin informing the first migrants it intended to deport to Rwanda. People who had crossed the Channel would be among them, according to the department.
In his interview, Mr Johnson said 50 “notices of intent” have now been issued. This marks the first stage of the process.
These individuals will have seven to fourteen days to file an objection.
The plans are widely expected to face legal challenges. Home Secretary Priti Patel has stated that the process will “take time,” but she has stated that she will not be deterred.
Mr Johnson told the Mail: “There’s going to be a lot of legal opposition from the types of firms that for a long time have been taking taxpayers’ money to mount these sort of cases, and to thwart the will of the people, the will of Parliament. We’re ready for that.
“We will dig in for the fight and we will make it work,” he added. “We’ve got a huge flowchart of things we have to do to deal with it, with the leftie lawyers.”
The new policy follows a dramatic increase in the number of small boat crossings across the English Channel this year, with over 6,000 people crossing so far.
According to Home Office data, 28,526 people crossed in 2021, up from 8,466 the previous year.
The terrifying final hours of a fatal journey for Channel migrants
According to the government, the new scheme will deal a major blow to people smugglers and prevent people from dying on dangerous routes to the UK.
Ms Patel insists that those who oppose the policy have “no answers” to the problem of dangerous small boat crossings.
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