More boat migrants have been intercepted in the English Channel in the first six months of 2019 than in the whole of last year.
The number of illegal migrants intercepted by authorities at Britain’s sea ports has risen to 511, with 152 of those arriving since the start of June alone, according to The Telegraph, while 312 people reached the UK in dinghies and other small boats in the whole of 2018.
In reaction to the rising numbers of illegal landings, Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphike wrote: “[The] crisis now threatens to turn into a Summer of chaos on the Channel. [The] Home Office needs to regain control of our borders [and ratify] a stronger agreement with France to stop people leaving the French coast.”
On Saturday, two boats holding a combined 40 migrants were intercepted in the English Channel just off of the Kent coast by UK Border Force. While on Wednesday, KentOnline reported that 38 migrants were intercepted in three different vessels, with all presenting themselves to immigration officers as Iranian or Iraqi nationals, and an abandoned dinghy was found on a beach at Greastone, near Dungeness.
On May 31st, the UK saw what Mr Elphike called a “record number” of illegal entries by boat in one day, when 74 migrants arrived in eight vessels, with one landing at Winchelsea Caravan Park beach in East Sussex.
The Dover MP criticised the Home Office at the time, saying: “This crisis was meant to have been dealt with at Christmas, yet numbers continue to rise. It looks set to surge to record levels through the Summer. The Home Office needs to get a grip on this crisis.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a “major incident” in December after a sharp rise in migrant boat landings on England’s south-east coast, including 40 arriving in five vessels on Christmas day. As a result, two cutters were returned to UK waters from overseas operations and the UK agreed a joint action plan with France.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 10, 2019
“Last week, the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, agreed to continue to explore options to reinforce the efforts already being made,” a Home Office spokesman said on Saturday, adding: “It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.”
The National Crime Agency said in February that Channel boat migrants are keen to be picked up by British authorities either on the water or after they have landed, because they know there is a low chance of them being deported.
Director General of Operations Steve Rodhouse told MPs that this kind of illegal immigration was no longer being done in a clandestine manner. “The business model is for the migrants to reach the point where they can engage with UK authorities whether it be on land or at sea and claim asylum at that point,” Mr Rodhouse said.
“People are happy to be — and are actively seeking to be — caught or engaging with UK authorities because they don’t fear being returned and that is a significant player in the issue,” he added.
At the time that Mr Javid declared the major incident, former director-general of Immigration Enforcement David Wood warned that deploying more immigration patrol vessels would act as a draw to illegals and people smugglers, adding: “Britain’s border force, coastguards and lifeboats are being used as a taxi service for the migrants.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 11, 2019