Analysis: Migrants Who Died in Lorry are Victims of Weak Borders and Callous People-Smugglers

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The tragic deaths of 39 would-be illegal migrants from China in a refrigerator lorry trailer highlight the deadly side-effects of Britain’s lax border controls — and the criminal people-smugglers who take advantage of them.

The deceased migrants, discovered at Waterglade Industrial Park in the Essex town of Grays, fewer than 30 miles from the British capital, had been brought across the English Channel to the litte-known town of Purfleet from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, on the North Sea coast — where Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Belgian officials have been warning of an increased security risk for at least a year.

NCA Deputy Director Tom Dowdall warned in October 2018 that, following the forcible closure of the infamous Calais Jungle migrant encampment and significant investment by Britain in increased security in and around the French port, illegal migrants and the people-smugglers who exploit them were fanning out to less busy, more vulnerable ports, including Zeebrugge, as well as resorting to “higher risk methods of clandestine entry” such as travel in refrigerator lorry trailers and containers, as well as by boat — the last of these being the method which has grabbed the most headlines in recent months.

“It’s displacement. Zeebrugge is a freight and container port which isn’t geared up to detect migrants. It’s organised crime finding a route that is guaranteed success and where you can charge premium rates,” explained David Wood, Director-General of Immigration Enforcement from 2013 to 2014, in comments to The Telegraph.

Carl Decaluwé, Governor of the Province of West Flanders which includes Zeebrugge, has revealed that, on average, 106 migrants are arrested in the region every week, and that even basic security such as CCTV cameras for the the lorry parks on the motorway from Brussels to Ostend — another major North Sea port — is lacking.

Breitbart London has previously reported on how van and lorry drivers, who have been stabbed and even killed by illegal migrants seeking to secrete themselves in their vehicles en route to the United Kingdom, have warned of increased and sometimes highly aggressive migrant activity in other ports away from Calais, such as Normandy and Caen.

The exact facts of how the murdered migrants came to be in the United Kingdom is unclear — due in no small part to the extreme difficulty the British authorities have tracking even items as large as heavy goods vehicles which enter Britain via its porous maritime border. Regardless, it seems likely the victims will fit a less well-known profile than the arguably more well-worn pattern associated with the predominantly African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Balkan migrants who accost lorry drivers and ferry operators around the European coast.

Indeed, the Essex case closely mirrors another from the year 2000, when the bodies of some 58 migrants were found in the back of a lorry in the Port of Dover. Only two survived.

Hsiao-Hung Pai, a journalist born in Taiwan, wrote extensively on the “hidden army” of Chinese illegal migrant workers in Britain, estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands, as long ago as 2008 in her book Chinese Whispers.

These migrants are generally invisible to the British public unless they caught up in major tragedies such as the Morecambe Bay disaster of 2004, when 23 “slaves” workers were drowned picking cockles on England’s north-west coast.

Such people are typically smuggled or outright trafficked into Britain by ruthless networks of criminal smugglers, known as “snakeheads” in China, who charge thousands, even tens of thousands of pounds to arrange dangerous and often deadly trips — including the one aforementioned Dover case which ended with dozens of their “customers” suffocating to death.

People-smuggles bringing illegal migrants to Britain and Europe from other parts of the world are no less ruthless, and their victims exploited no less viciously.

In 2016, Breitbart London reported on the case of Somali people-smuggler Mouhamud Elmi Muhidin, who brought 366 people to their death piloting an unseaworthy vessel into the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.

Survivors recounted harrowing tales of Muhidin and his fellow smugglers raping every woman in their charge, and torturing their passengers with beatings and electric shocks “because we were just Christians, inferior beings to Muslims.”

Mass rapes and deliberate drownings of Christians are regular and even typical features of the people-smuggling trade, which for a time was in hock to the Islamic State terror network and provided it with significant funding in the form of protection money.

The smugglers work with organised crime syndicates such as the Nigerian mafia, known to terrify female migrants into sexual slavery with barbaric voodoo rituals and threats of violence upon their arrival in Europe.

Even European nationals are not beyond the smugglers’ malicious grasp, with hundreds of Ukrainians in “financial difficulties” ending up in prison after being press-ganged into piloting yachts which collect migrants from the coast of Turkey and then transport them to EU ports “under penalty of death”.

The reaction among many prominent left-liberal politicians and commentators to the Chinese migrant deaths in Essex has been to lay the blame at the feet of the Tory government’s supposed “hostile environment” policy towards illegal migrants, although this appears to have been largely abandoned, and in any was focused on making it more difficult to operate in Britain’s extensive black economy rather than reinforcing its limp border controls.

“You can’t turn the United Kingdom into a fortress,” argued Sean Sawyer, Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, in an interview on BBC Radio 4 on the subject of the deaths — but he added that relaxing Britain’s borders could not solve the issues around human trafficking and people-smuggling.

“Organised crime sees people as commodity; they will abuse any system, anywhere, anytime,” he explained.

Some left-neoliberals have said the Essex deaths make the case for abolishing borders outright, however — indeed, the opposition Labour party has committed to moving towards global inward free movement if it forms Britain’s next government at its most recent party conference.

Labour also vowed to shut down all the country’s detention centres — a move which would make is all but impossible to deport anyone in the country illegally, which serve as a signal for the people-smugglers to massively step up their efforts, and put many more lives in danger.

But a policy of wholesale open borders is likely untenable, whatever the rhetoric of the political left, given the relative size of the United Kingdom’s population and the number of global poor — among others — who could seek to come to it.

For example, in the deceased migrants’ home country of China alone there are around 43.35 million people living below the poverty line — more than four times the population of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland combined — while around 500 million people — roughly on par with the population of the European Union in its entirety — survive on just $5.50 per day or less, according to the Borgen Project.

Evidently, the United Kingdom is incapable of receiving such an influx, making it all the more important that the British government cracks down on the black economy and imposes salutary sentences on people-smugglers when they are brought to book.

The UK is soon to leave the European Union, meaning the nation will be able to shed the bloc’s “completely useless” rules on deportation which currently hamstring such efforts. In time, it may be possible to make the country a less desirable destination for illegal migrants, discouraging would-be arrivals from putting their own lives at risk by placing themselves in the hands of callous smugglers in the first place.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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