‘Record Number’ of Migrant Boats in English Channel, ‘Home Office Needs to Get a Grip’

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The number of boats transporting illegal migrants to Britain appears to have hit a daily record, with HM Coastguard reporting it has assisted with 13 “incidents” off the Kent coast and a dinghy sighted off East Sussex.

The Kent incidents involved nine boats carrying dozens of migrants, according to Sky News — prompting Charlie Elphicke, MP for the Dover and Deal constituency on the frontline of the crisis, to admonish the authorities.

“If confirmed this would be a record number of boats arriving in a single day. This crisis was meant to have been dealt with at Christmas, yet numbers continue to rise,” he tweeted, in reference to Home Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Sajid Javid having declared already “major incident” in the Channel as the number of boats were beginning to surge over the festive period.

“It looks set to surge to record levels through the Summer. The Home Office needs to get a grip on this crisis,” Elphicke added.

The MP warned that the Channel crisis was “about much more than simply border security”, noting that the “the exploitation of vulnerable people by criminal trafficking gangs” and the inherent dangerousness of the voyages were also concerns.

He reiterated the urgent need for the British and French authorities to crack down on the people-smugglers to avert “a tragedy in the middle of the English Channel resulting in loss of life”.

Australia managed to avert a similar crisis in the Pacific with its Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which deterred migrants from embarking on journeys in the first place by making it clear that anyone reaching their country by sea would either be turned back or, if found to be genuine refugees, resettled in another safe country.

While the boat migrants crisis has concentrated the minds of politicians and commentators on illegal migration into Britain, the hundreds of people involved make up a relatively small proportion of clandestine entrants — with tens of thousands still using more tried and true methods of breaking into lorries, ferries, or the Channel Tunnel in order to make their crossing.

Unlike the Australians, the British are able to deport very few illegal migrants who do make it to British soil or territorial waters, despite France — where most come from — being a safe country, thanks to onerous EU asylum regulations.

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