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‘Unchecked Criminality’ as Migrants Continue To Cross the Channel

Charles Hymas / KJM Today Opinion

February 1, 2022.

UK authorities intercepted or rescued 1,347 migrants who made the perilous journey across the Channel in 46 boats. That compares to 223 migrants in 15 boats last year and just 87 in eight boats during the first month of 2020. If the trend of the past six months continues, the numbers arriving will top 40,000 - more than a third more than the record 28,381 who reached the UK across the Channel last year, reports Charles Hymas for The Telegraph.

Above: Migrants with police on a beach in Dungeness after crossing the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy during January

© Reuters/Henry Nicholls

Ministers have been warned that in the "worst case scenario" 65,000 could cross the Channel this year - dwarfing the 8,410 who reached the UK in 2020.

Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said the French needed to do more to stop “unchecked” criminality by people smugglers on their shores. “The French have taken tens of millions of pounds of British taxpayers' hard-earned money and people will rightly ask what on earth is being done with it,” she said.

“Enough is enough. The French need to honour their international obligations to save lives and stop this brazen criminality going unchecked on their shores.”

On the busiest day in January, 271 migrants arrived in Dover, Kent - more than the whole of January last year.

The surge in crossings has continued, despite 27 migrants dying when their dinghy sank in November - the worst single loss of life in the Channel for decades. So far this year, three migrants have been confirmed to have died in northern France trying to reach the UK. Charity Care4Calais said it was “likely” there had been at least two more.

A damaged inflatable dinghy and outboard motors abandoned by migrants on the beach near the Slack dunes, the day after 27 migrants died trying to cross the Channel in November last year

© Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

A spokesman for the charity, which supports refugees in Europe and the UK, said: "All this so early in the year brings home the dangers refugees face, and the appalling fact that our government will not act to stop it.

"To caring people, these tragedies are unbearable - young men who have fled persecution, torture and death, dying alone so far from their homes.

"The atrocious spectacle could be ended by the introduction of a system allowing refugees in France to claim asylum in the UK and receive safe passage."

Ministers will this month unveil details of its plans for the Royal Navy to take charge of combating the surge in Channel crossings. Tom Pursglove, the immigration minister, said the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill would bring in the necessary long-term changes to tackle “the blatant disregard of our immigration laws”.

This includes life sentences for smugglers and four-year jail terms for entering the UK illegally. It also includes powers for Border Force to stop and redirect vessels, as well as offshore processing centres for asylum seekers.

© Charles Hymas / The Telegraph

No sane person can deny or argue against the entirely valid point that the numbers of illegal migrants crossing the Channel, or attempting to do so, is simply unsustainable. And it is also untrue that all of these migrants are genuinely refugees, "who have fled persecution, torture and death, dying alone so far from their homes" as the charity quoted above puts it.

Such statements beg immediate questions; why are (as Care4Calais does accurately say) an astounding majority of these illegals young men?

And where are the older people; where are the women and children? Yes, there has been some and media coverage has focussed on the few that have been found. But it is still an undeniable fact that the vast majority of these people are indeed young men. And most have paid people smugglers large sums of money; all seem to have mobile phones, charged, paid for and working. Those three facts - and they are facts - are largely ignored by mainstream media coverage.

No country, least of all an already heavily populated one like the UK, can possibly hope to handle the numbers. And there is nothing remotely untoward in pointing out that few of these illegal arrivals have no connection whatsoever with the United Kingdom. So why are so many still doing it?

The main reason remains the perception of the UK in other parts of the world; that is that the UK is a place where nobody is turned away and free housing and money are available. Whether true or not, that is the image presented.

It is true that the UK behaves in a much more humane way generally than many other countries. That is to the United Kingdom's credit. However, the perception must change. A very clear and indelibly strong message must go out - the UK cannot take any more extra people; there is nothing here for you; if you enter the UK illegally, you will be imprisoned and then deported.

But this cannot stop there. Grandiose statements from government ministers about the Royal Navy are pointless. What can the Navy do that hasn't already been done? The Navy cannot 'redirect' flimsy dinghies anywhere, least of all back to France - the French will not allow them to land and would frankly rather see them drown than do so. This of course is something the British will not do and as already said, it is to the UK's credit.

But who can really blame the French? The people of France don't want them either and for that matter, neither do the people of any other European country. And that is why, as we have said before, the only solution is a Europe-wide one, one that involves ALL European countries, including funding, not just those in the EU. The unremitting stream of illegal migrants is a European problem, not a British or French one.

These migrants - whatever their reasons for slipping out of their own countries, however justified they may or may not be for doing so - must be stopped at the point of entry to the European continent. Be it Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy or France (or elsewhere), that is where the relentless flow must be halted. And it is ALL European countries that must pay for reception centres to where these migrants will be taken.

Yes, they must be treated well. Given proper food, decent accommodation, medical help (including testing for any contagious diseases or other ailments) and whatever other help is needed. Including language, education and further training before being properly processed and sent on to the most suitable country for them - which may not necessarily be in Europe.

But illegal migrants must be in no doubt at all; enter Europe illegally and you will be taken to a reception centre - you will not be allowed to roam around any European country.

On top of that, and again funded by all European countries, people smugglers must be relentlessly hunted down and the gangs eliminated, with punishments so draconian that nobody will risk doing it again.

These are straightforward and simple solutions - they are not easy but they are simple (there is a difference) and the only reason they have not been put in place already is political posturing and point-scoring across Europe, including from both the UK and France.

It is easier to merely pass them on as the Brits will let anybody in - yet these illegal migrants should not be getting anywhere near the border between France and the UK.

The only result of no pan-European action is more suffering; by migrants, some of whom will carry on dying, and the people of the UK, who continue to see their own country suffer from a flood of foreigners gaining entry illegally.


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