Those Crossing The Channel Are Not Refugees


Current Affairs, European Union, Legal Matters, Migration Trends, Policy

The Home Secretary told a Parliamentary Committee that those crossing the Channel are not refugees but have previously rejected the option of seeking asylum while passing through safe countries.

This accords with previous estimates (for instance by the EU itself) which suggested 60% are economic migrants not entitled to asylum or humanitarian protection (see article quoting First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans).

Given this, why are more illegal entrants not immediately returned?

Returns have all but stopped and it appears none were returned under the EU’s Dublin Rules between May and now.

Those who claim refuge after entering this way are abusing our beleaguered asylum system urged on by, and for the profit of, cold-blooded criminal traffickers. Why does the government allow it?

Why should illegal entrants be allowed to unfairly exploit a system that is meant to be reserved only for the truly vulnerable?

Why should they be given free housing (costing nearly £5bn in taxpayers money over the next decade), and a segment of the nearly £100 million in cash payments per year that claimants receive?

Given they failed to seek asylum in other safe countries, the motivation of those crossing cannot be to find safety. It can only be (illegal) entry.

So why are they able to skip the queue in front of law-abiding migrants who patiently wait in line and pay through the nose in visa fees? That is grossly unfair.

Adam Holloway MP asked if it was the case that the overwhelming majority of people who made the crossings were migrants, not refugees. Ms Patel said it was indeed the case that the people who made the crossings were migrants. Those migrants had journeyed through other countries which were safe refuges. The route had to be broken and made unviable‘.

Separately, Andrew Gwynne MP put Migration Watch UK’s Channel Crossing estimates to the Home Secretary and asked for her response. Here was the full exchange:

Mr Gwynne: ‘Can I turn now to the issue of borders and specifically of migrant crossings? In January 2019, the British and French Governments agreed the treaty of Sandhurst to improve border security and prevent people from crossing the channel in small boats. Migration Watch reports that around, I think, 2,300 have successfully crossed to the UK in the first half of 2020. Do you accept those figures?’

Home Secretary Priti Patel: ‘I do not have those in front of me. I see figures on a daily basis on small boat crossings, because I see not just the data but every single incident report that comes in. What I would say, and I will be very clear about it, is that these numbers are shocking, appalling and unacceptably high. Shona Dunn is leading on a team who are working specifically on this. I can also say that as of 2 July there are 166 arrivals with a Eurodat hit who are ready to be returned to Italy, Germany and France, and we have already made return requests for a further 577 people who have come into the country this year alone.

The figures are unacceptable. We have a major problem with these small boats and the route itself. I was in Calais on Sunday morning, and I can tell you right now that we want to end the viability of that route because of other measures that have been put in place over recent years—lorry drops, for example. There will be more measures and more checks at various borders, even in Belgium. We are working with the Belgian authorities as well to try to stop and prevent the facilitation of people trafficking through lorries.

This route is incredibly problematic. We cannot sugar coat it; it is absolutely problematic. I have seen for myself along the roads in Calais camps that have been set up. The French authorities, through the Sandhurst agreement that has been put in place, are clearing camps, but actually all it is leading to is greater displacement. We have also seen that individuals who we have returned back to France will still try to come over again. We have repeat people who have tried to come over again, which is why, because we do have data on these individuals, we are so persistent in returning them.

The fact of the matter is that France is a safe country, Germany is a safe country, Italy is a safe country, and people should be claiming asylum in those countries.’

Here is the full transcript of the evidence session. Watch the session on video.

23rd July 2020

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