Border Force Union: Royal Navy Needed to Return Channel Migrants to France

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The Royal Navy will be needed to perform returns of illegal boat migrants to France in the English Channel, said the union representing the UK Border Force.

The Union for Borders, Immigration, and Customs (ISU) said that Border Force officials are ill-equipped to handle dangerous situations and possible violence from migrants attempting to cross the Channel illegally.

“They are designed for rescue, not incarceration,” claimed Lucy Moreton, the professional officer of the ISU, in comments reported by The Telegraph — an assessment at odds with the public’s perception that Border Force exists to enforce national borders.

“If you do returns at sea, that would be something that the military would have to be involved in. Even then I am not convinced it would be safe, but they are far better equipped to do it than us,” Moreton added.

She warned that the migrants might violently fight back against Border Force officials. Moreton said that because some of the small rubber boats carry up to 40 migrants at a time, they could possibly overwhelm the Border Force cutter boats, which are already understaffed to comply with social distancing requirements. The vessels also lack any area, such as a brig, to detain a large number of migrants.

The Border Force union rep also explained that returns at sea could also result in “protests in France or civil unrest if you tried to return them. That’s why the French don’t do it” — essentially an admission that the authorities are failing to act because they fear criminal retribution on the part of illegal migrants and their supporters.

Illegal migration over the English Channel from France has been rapidly increasing in 2020, with about double the number already arriving this year compared to the entirety of the previous year.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly trying to secure a deal with her French counterparts that would see migrants immediately returned to France, rather than being brought ashore in Britain, where the likelihood of them being deported is incredibly low even when their asylum claims are rejected as bogus — as is invariably the case, given the migrants are coming from a safe, first world EU member-state where they face no state persecution.

There has been no indication from France that such a deal is imminent, however.

Britain’s equivalent to the FBI, the National Crime Agency (NCA), said that one of the reasons for the increased flow of migrants is that people-smuggling gangs have dramatically dropped their prices for providing passage across the Channel in small rubber boats.

The NCA’s head of operations for organised immigration crime, Steve Reynolds, said that the people-smuggling gangs have dropped their price per head to as little as £500. Reynolds said that the traffickers have developed different options including “deluxe” packages, as well as second-hand rubber boat options, and even confirmed reports that some migrants are being given kayaks to make the perilous journey.

“There’s a broader range of pricing now than there was. It used to be commonly figures of £2,000 to £4,000, but now you have higher and lower,” said Mr Reynolds.

“It’s a diversity which is an indication of more people relying on this method of entry because other ways are more limited and they find it works for them,” he explained.

“There are more people getting into it. The more migrants, the more people will present themselves as facilitators,” Reynolds added.

The organised immigration crime chief warned that because the gangs have established a method of successfully transporting migrants into the United Kingdom, “it may not go back to what it was”, as it has become “firmly” entrenched in the minds of the people-smugglers.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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