A loophole in EU immigration rules is allowing failed immigrants to try their luck again – this time as asylum seekers.
Brussels rules have resulted in immigrants being smuggled out of the UK and then apply for asylum seeker status in Italy, where thousands of hopefuls from Africa and the Middle East try their luck, sailing to the island of Lampedusa, the Express reports.
And once that status has been granted by one EU country, they cannot be denied it by another, according to the Dublin Agreement.
If they are caught in the UK they can only be returned to Italy rather than their home countries.
The scheme was discovered by an undercover BBC reporter posing as an illegal immigrant. An East London people smuggler offered the ‘service’ to the man for £1,500 where he then secretly filmed 21 people hiding in a lorry bound for France. Most of them said they planned to then return to Britain under the alternative guise.
Some on the lorry were from Pakistan, India and Afghanistan and said they came into the UK on student visas, while others were staying in Britain illegally.
Because of the lack of exit checks, the lorries travel straight past police officers and passport control at the Port of Dover before taking a ferry to France. One they arrive in Calais, which is part of the Schengen Area where no passports are required at borders, the smugglers drove on the Veurne on the Belgian border where many of the immigrants planned to continue their journey.
Italy is seen as a soft touch for those wanting asylum seeker status as the country is overrun in dealing with the number of people trying to get to Europe. With the Schengen Agreement making most of the EU a borderless area, once-busy Italian border guards pass immigrants as asylum seekers, they can travel anywhere in the block without being stopped.
Huge numbers head for the port city of Calais, where they stay in camps called ‘The Jungle’ waiting to stow away on a ferry.
The Port of Dover plans to introduce exit checks from April to curb the trend.
The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart sparked fury earlier this month by announcing another immigration camp to stop the immigrants camping all over the city and wandering the streets.
She said the new “welcoming centre” will be built next to the new Jules Ferry camp where women and children can stay overnight and migrants can have access to cheap food, showers and electricity.
Mme Bouchart has been outspoken in her anger towards British politicians who she says need to do more to stop the country being seen as an ‘El Dorado’ for immigrants.