British authorities are being urged to address the Channel
in a “different”, more radical manner.
“Nothing is going to fix” the existing system, insisted Immigration and Services Union officer Lucy Moreton, cited by the Daily Mail. She called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel to draw up plans to tackle the deepening
and get France on board with them.
“You need another macro-political solution. If there’d been an easy answer to irregular migration in Europe, we’d have got it ten years ago, but we didn’t – it relies on international co-operation in Europe”, said Moreton.
The union boss corroborated her comments with official statistics showing that almost 12,500 migrants have undertaken the 21-mile journey across the Channel in small boats so far this year. This is almost 4,000 more than the total number of such crossings registered last year.
A record 125,316 asylum claims are currently being processed by the Home Office at an annual cost of £1.3 billion.
“The Home Secretary and Prime Minister have to say, ‘This is how we’re doing it differently and this is how we’re paying to do it differently’, because as it stands nothing is going to fix this system”, said the Immigration and Services Union chief.
AFP 2021 / GLYN KIRK
This year, an estimated 22,000 migrants are expected to make the journey across the Channel, according to the Border Force (BF), despite the British and French governments signing an agreement in July to curb the number of migrants illegally crossing over.
The UK is to provide €62.7 million ($73.9 mln) in order to reinforce police patrolling on French beaches, as well as investing in surveillance technology. The deal was penned by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
“We’re paying money to the French, but we don’t know what they’re doing with it. The frustration is that when the French catch someone they don’t compel them to regularise their stay, they just let them go to try again”, said Moreton.
According to the union boss, in Calais, Coquelles, and Dunkirk it was common for the same illegal migrant to be apprehended “four or five times, every shift” during searches of freight by officers.
“…Then they’ve vanished, so you know they’ve done it, they’ve made it across”, she said.
Furthermore, Moreton said the current situation led her to “strongly suspect” that the number of migrants who
during the dangerous attempt to cross the Channel in dinghies is greater than the eight reported deaths since last year.
AP Photo / Michel Spingler
acknowledged in the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee that the numbers of migrants attempting crossings from France had “increased considerably.”
“Originally we were seeing much more focus in Calais, and on Calais, now we are seeing widespread dispersal along the entire French coast line, and this has been the pattern for the majority of this year”, she said.
Patel touted the potential benefits of her Nationality and Borders
, currently in the committee stage in the House of Commons. It aims to tighten penalties for people smugglers in an attempt to tackle the migrant problem.
The new system will ostensibly make it easier to return some illegal asylum seekers more quickly, make some of them apply before they reach UK shores, and grant border officials the powers to turn back boats in British waters. However, currently intelligence allegedly indicates that people smugglers are using the upcoming crackdown to encourage migrants to attempt the illegal crossings now before “borders close”.
Critics of the Borders Bill say it is “flawed” unless it is buoyed by returns agreements made with EU countries. The UK government has still failed to strike any bilateral returns deals with European countries.
“The question of readmissions to the EU is an EU affair and should be dealt with at the EU level”, a French interior ministry spokesperson was cited as saying by The Independent. An Austrian government spokesperson stated:
“We are not aware of any discussions between Austria and the UK in view of substituting bilaterally the arrangements under the Dublin Regulation after the UK’s exit from the EU”.
The current migrant situation was slammed by Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds as “a total mess”.
REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol
The government’s procrastination in replacing the Dublin Regulation post-Brexit with bilateral deals was leaving people in “terrible limbo”, he added.
“We are also keenly aware of the need for a fresh agreement with France and the EU, but at the moment they don’t want to hear any of it”, a source close to Patel was cited as saying.
Lucy Moreton’s stance is shared by Clare Moseley of the charity Care4Calais, who was quoted as saying:
“These Government policies of deterrence and increased security don’t work with refugees. We need a new approach”.