Ministers are planning to expand the capacity of Yarl’s Wood, in Bedfordshire, by erecting pre-fab style accommodation that will house up to 200 individuals.
Lawyers believe that the government cut corners by failing to obtain planning permission or carry out the necessary impact assessments in its rush to set up the new facility.
It comes after former Home Office minister Caroline Nokes said the department’s plans to build a similar asylum seeker camp in her constituency near Southampton were “deeply worrying”.
During an interview with The Independent, the Tory MP said: “We know these people are going to have had huge trauma. It fills me with horror that our supported asylum accommodation processes have gone so hideously wrong that they can’t even recognise that this is not a decent way to accommodate people.”
Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said the plans were “inhuman” and called on ministers to “urgently” rethink its decision and “start acting with compassion and common sense”.
“People should be housed in safe and clean homes in community settings while they wait for a decision on their asylum claim,” he added.
Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: “It’s the freezing cold middle of winter and the Home Office thinks it’s acceptable to force vulnerable refugees to live in flimsy portacabins.
“The prison-style camp the Home Office is building at Yarl’s Wood will be a place of misery for refugees, when what they need is a place of safety.
“It’s increasingly clear that the government cut corners forcing this rush job through, and we hope legal action can put a stop to their inhuman plan.”
A Home Office spokesperson said it would carefully consider any legal action or correspondence. They said asylum seekers on the new site would be separate from the removal centre and would be “free to come and go as they please”.
Minister for immigration compliance Chris Philp, said: “To ensure we have sufficient accommodation available to meet our statutory obligations we plan to use a vacant site adjacent to the existing immigration removal centre to accommodate asylum seekers while their claim is being fully processed.”