Just two months after voting to leave the European Union (EU), the UK has announced the construction of a “great wall” near its most porous border in Calais, to keep illegal migrants out.
The UK’s southern border checks are conducted in northern France and attempted illegal crossings have more than quadrupled in recent years. UK Border Force guards on French soil stopped 84,088 illegal immigrants last year, figures released last month show.
The new 13-foot (4 metre) high wall will be built of smooth concrete, making it hard to climb, and will line the roads into the port town of Calais where the entrance to the channel tunnel also sits.
“We are going to start building this big, new wall as part of the £17 million package we are doing with the French,” the UK’s immigration minister Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary committee yesterday, the Telegraph reports.
“People are still getting through,” he added. “We’ve done the fence, now we’re doing the wall”.
“We have also invested in space for 200 lorries at Calais so that they have somewhere safe to wait”, the minister also explained.
Migrants primarily break into lorries and stow away to enter the country illegally, although they have also been known to walk through the rail tunnel and storm ferries en masse.
In efforts to slow down trucks in order to break into them, migrants have caused vehicles to crash, left logs on the road, thrown rocks off bridges, and set fire to undergrowth. The drivers have been attacked, beaten with bats, stabbed, and even threatened with chainsaws.
Earlier this week, hundreds of truckers, dockworkers, and farmers shut down main roads into Calais in protest of the violence and inaction on behalf of the authorities.
Mr. Goodwill admitted that the aim of reducing immigration to the tens of thousands was a “big challenge” in such circumstances. “That is our clear objective and we intend to pursue every visa route that we can to reduce those numbers,” he said.