British cutters should patrol French territorial waters in the English Channel and return illegal aliens

Published on 22nd December 2019 by Lucas

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Last modified 19th October 2020

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Two former heads of British immigration agencies have said that British cutters should patrol French waters in the English Channel and return illegal aliens to France before they get anywhere near Great Britain.

Observing that the current system of picking up boat migrants in British waters and ferrying them to the mainland is not deterring illegal immigration, Peter Higgins, a former directorof Immigration Services, said: “If Border force cutters are to continue to be deployed, is it not logical that they should operate in French waters, and having made an interception immediately return individuals to France?”

Mr Higgins, who worked in immigration and customs for 40 years, “If the French are serious about solving this problem, they would not be averse to the UK cutters operating in French waters. Why is this not being done?

“One thing is for certain, if everyone were to be returned to France, the attraction of this form of trafficking would be negated immediately to the mutual benefit of the UK and France.”

Former director-general of Immigration Enforcement David Wood was of the same mind, saying: “Returning the migrants to France would remove the motivation for organised crime to be involved because they would not have a product to sell. The flow would stop fairly quickly. The way to deter migrants is to show it doesn’t work.”

Earlier this week, five boats containing a total of 69 migrants were intercepted off of the coast of Dover, while two weeks ago 79 migrants were picked up by immigration officials. Some 1,700 illegal aliens have arrived in the country by boat this year, with just 100 being returned to France.

Illegal sea crossings have become a more common phenomenon in the past year, notably following a spike last winter, with a then-record 40 migrants in five boats crossing the English Channel on Christmas day in 2018. As numbers increased, then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a “major incident” and pledged more border force cutters to patrol Britain’s territorial waters.

However, Mr Wood warned at the time that people-smugglers were using Britain’s coastguard, border force, and lifeboat rescuers “as a taxi service” to complete their journeys.

He explained: “As far as organised crime is concerned, it’s de-risked their business. They know they don’t have to get right across the Channel and land, they can get halfway across and the migrants will be taken the rest of the way.

A report from November revealed that an average of five migrant boats set sail for England every week, despite assurances from French authorities that they were committed to stopping illegal migration from their shores.

The figures also revealed that 11,952 illegals had been found hidden in lorries at the port of Calais, France, while 7,911 were found at the Eurotunnel terminal.

Another report from October, from Sky News, revealed that the government has deported just six per cent of illegals who have crossed the Channel since December 2018.

Natalie Elphicke, the newly-elected Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, is pushing to meet with Home Secretary Priti Patel to ask the government to demand that its French counterparts do more “to stop these illegal departures from their shores”.

“The French have been given tens of millions of pounds of British hard-earned taxpayer money… I want to know where the money has gone,” Mrs Elphicke said.

In October, a people-smuggler in France told LBC that French police turn a blind eye to their activities, and even tell migrants when not to cross the Channel in order to avoid border patrols.