Calais’s immigration boss has called for the migrants in his town to be put on a ferry and sent to Britain, according to the Daily Mail. Phlippe Mignonet, claimed that his town was now under “severe pressure” from the influx of immigrants trying to enter the UK.
Mr Mignonet’s team are struggling to cope as hundreds arrive in the town in the hope of crossing to the UK. So far the largest immigrant camp site has at least a thousand Africans living in it. Mignonet predicts that five thousand people will be living in illegal camps around Calais by the end of the year, on top of those in illegal squats and living on the streets.
He suggested that the border be moved from Calais to Dover for one month so that Britain “understands how difficult the problem is”. This would allow immigrants to get onto ferries without passports as immigration controls would be on arrival in Britain. In practice, this would mean all the camps would empty in a few days.
Mr Mignonet, who is also the Deputy Mayor of Calais, said: “What we want to do is buy the migrants ferry tickets to Britain and let them deal with the problem,” he said. “We want the border to be moved from Calais to Dover and Folkestone for one month so Britain understands how difficult the problem is.”
Every time there is a humanitarian crisis in Europe, Africa or the Middle East large numbers of migrants head for Britain. The European Union’s rules on open borders mean that once an illegal immigrant makes it into the EU, normally on an craft illegally landing in Italy, they can go almost anywhere without proving they are an EU national.
The UK is not part of this open border agreement, known as Schengen, which is why the illegals can make it all the way to Calais but are then stuck. Their only option from Calais is to attempt an illegal crossing by hiding in a lorry or gaining access to the Channel Tunnel. Hundreds attempt this every night, the only punishment for failure is being returned to France. Inevitably this means that some make it through; authorities in Calais currently estimate this figure to be thirty a day.
In recent months, Police in Calais have been trying to clear out the illegal camps because they are seen as a major public health risk. The problem is that due to Schengen they have no powers to deal with the cause of the problem, the ease with which illegals are able to get to Calais.
Plans to demolish the illegal camp known as Jungle 2 have been delayed as there have been clashes between rival gangs of immigrants within the camps. As a result, the prefect of the Pas-de-Calais area, Denis Robin, said delegations would be sent in to speak to the migrants to prevent any further trouble.
Mr Mignonet, who is also the town’s deputy mayor, added: “People say we are not doing anything, but we can’t stop the migrants going from Africa to Italy and making their way to England. We are just one town.
“Europe should help us but they do nothing. Our image has suffered and we’re known as a migrant town. Businesses have pulled out of investments because they are concerned about the migrants.”
He blamed the UK for acting as a magnet for migrants wishing to start new lives and called on his government to act to save his town from “a slow death”. Mignonet also admitted that his “dream” is to open a new refugee camp like the one at Sangatte that closed in 2002.
The camp become an international magnet for immigrants and led to an explosion in illegal crossings to Britain. The year before the camp closed ten thousand people got across, whereas by 2006 this figure had fallen to 1,500.
Mr Mignonet’s comments will lead to alarm in Britain. London has long worried that while the French did agree to close Sangatte, they have never accepted that the EU is to blame for this crisis. Instead, French politicians seem convinced that the solution to the problem is for Britain to open its borders and all everyone in.
In practise this would mean anyone who successfully makes the short trip from North Africa to Spain or Italy would be guaranteed to make it into the UK as they would have no other borders to cross.