Handful of Deportations Go Ahead as Illegal Migrants Hunger Strike

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BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

The British Home Office has managed to deport a small group of illegal migrants despite a hunger strike by detainees at Brook House.

Two small groups of six migrants each were removed to France and Germany, with another 15 being removed in the last week, according to the BBC — but these numbers are dwarfed by the more than 5,000 known to have crossed the English Channel illegally in small boats since the beginning of 2020.

Even this figure almost certainly underestimates the true scale of the Channel crisis, however, as the British authorities have been refusing disclose the number of supposed child migrants who migrants who have been crossing — even though it has been admitted that at least a quarter of these are really adults.

It also fails to account for migrants who land undetected, or who reach Britain via more “traditional” cross-Channel routes — i.e. hiding in lorries and other vehicles, stowing away in ferries, or breaking into the Eurotunnel.

Nevertheless, even the small number of deportations Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have achieved have met with resistance, with some illegals detained at Brook House ahead of their removal organising a hunger strike in an effort to blackmail the authorities into letting them stay.

“I told the Home Office that I’d prefer to die here rather than going to Spain again,” said one migrant of the hunger strike, as quoted by the Detained Voiced anti-border control activist organisation.

They added that they were in Britain “looking for… a new life with new opportunities [and] reunion with my family” — although whether this referred to joining family members already in the country or family members they intended to bring over through chain migration once regularised is unclear.

The judiciary has proven to be the open borders lobby’s most potent weapon against deportations, however, with a Home Office social media video blaming “activist lawyers” and EU law — which still applies in Britain, as it has yet to exit its post-Brexit “transition period” with the bloc — for its failure to get on top of the problem.

“[C]urrent return regulations are rigid and open to abuse, allowing activist lawyers to delay and disrupt returns,” the government department complained.

“Soon we will no longer be bound by EU laws and can negotiate our own return arrangements,” they promised — suggesting Boris Johnson’s administration has no intention of taking firm action for months.

Even after EU law ceases to imply in Britain, however, the government would still have to stand up to France, European human rights judges — whose jurisdiction over Britain continues with or without Brexit — and anti-borders interpretations of international law in order to seriously step up removals.

As yet the government has offered little indication that it intends to do so.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has urged the government to take action much sooner, saying in an interview this week that the nation should withdraw from the European Union’s Dublin III regulations on asylum seeking ahead of leaving the transition period at the end of December. Noting it could take months for the government to pass new legislation, Mr Farage said thousands more could come in that time.

He said: “But the problem is, how many thousands more will come, and need to be housed, and put pressure on those communities before anything passes into law. And I actually think that the government needs to say to the European Union as part of the negotiations that are ongoing — we are overriding the Dublin Regulations which allows people, effectively, to not claim asylum in France but to come to Britain. And we’ll overrule them immediately. That’s the only way we are going to stop the flow this year.”

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