UK Govt Declares Illegal English Channel Migrant Crossings ‘Major Incident’

Channel
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The UK’s Home Secretary has declared the illegal crossings across the English Channel from France a “major incident” after a sharp rise in boat migrants, mainly Iranian citizens, landing on Kent’s shores.

The Home Office said in a statement that Mr Javid has spoken to Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement, and the National Crime Agency (NCA) and has asked for “an urgent call with his French counterpart over the weekend to reaffirm the continuing need for the UK and France to work closely together to tackle the problem.”

While migrant numbers arriving in boats from France have been rising since November, the past few days have seen unprecedented landings, with a total of 40 arriving in five vessels on Christmas day, at least three on Boxing day, 32 Iranians were intercepted in British waters on Thursday, and another 12 were detained off the coast of Dover on Friday.

Former Home Office official David Wood, who used to lead immigration enforcement, said that “Britain’s border force, coastguards and lifeboats are being used as a taxi service for migrants.

“As far as organised crime is concerned, it’s de-risked their business.

“They know they don’t have to get right across the Channel and land, they can get half way across and the migrants will be taken the rest of the way.

“We have to stop this or it will grow and grow. The answer is to return them to France as soon as they are picked up. Given that the immigrants travelled from France, it would not be unlawful if the French agreed.”

The Home Office spokesman added that Mr Javid “has also commissioned detailed options from Border Force about the provision of additional vessels in the Channel, including another Border Force cutter, and whether this is likely to encourage more people to try and make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.”

A Whitehall source had warned in late November that “More ships means migrants crossing in dinghies will only have to reach British boats rather than make it all the way across the Channel.”

While asylum seekers are obliged to seek asylum in the first safe country of entry, EU regulations mandate that the UK cannot simply return the migrants who travelled illegally to the UK back to France, but to the first EU country of entry — a fact difficult to ascertain due to unwillingness of migrants to cooperate, a lack of records, or reluctance of fellow EU states to receive them.

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