Channel migrants seeking asylum in the UK are smuggling themselves back to France because of Priti Patel’s crackdown, says a UK charity.
Care4Calais has revealed the case of an Iranian who came to Britain on a small boat but has since managed to return to Dunkirk after becoming disillusioned with his experience in the controversial Napier barracks used to house Channel migrants in Folkestone, Kent.
He told volunteers working for the charity that he had smuggled himself back to France on a lorry. “England does not have any law,” he told them.
“I don’t have a good memory of the place. It is broken from the inside.”
Napier barracks was at the centre of a near-riot when migrants being kept on the former military base after an outbreak of Covid-19 went on the rampage and set fire to buildings in protest at the Home Office’s refusal to move them to a hotel.
The Home Secretary has been under pressure to close down the barracks as an asylum centre, including from local Tories because of the conditions, location and spartan regime.
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Care4Calais’s founder Clare Moseley also disclosed that two young men from El Salvador who had come to the UK to seek asylum had also applied to the Home Office to be repatriated, but had been told there was a waiting list before they could be returned home.
“Their father is in the military and the family was being pursued by terrorist and criminal groups so he sent them to England, but they are now stuck in Manchester. All they want to do is work and don’t like relying on the state,” said Ms Moseley.
She blamed the increasingly tough restrictions and hostility that the migrants faced for their decisions to seek to leave the UK.
The Government is seeking to deter illegal migrants from making the perilous journey across the Channel through increased patrols and surveillance on French beaches and a tougher approach to asylum.
A new law, introduced after Brexit, makes any migrant’s asylum claim inadmissible if they have been in a safe third country before their arrival in the UK. This weekend it emerged that Ms Patel is drawing up plans for smugglers to face life sentences, rather than the current maximum of 14 years.
A policy paper due this month is expected to tighten up what ministers claim is the “broken” asylum system by placing curbs on “litigious” human rights claimants who seek to delay their deportation and encourage judges to take a tougher stance against asylum seekers with criminal records.
Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, warned that she expected a “Spring surge” to match or even surpass last year’s record numbers, which totalled 8,410, despite an extra £29 million paid to France for extra police and surveillance.
She believed a key remained to persuade France to turn back and return migrants at sea.
“The key is to make the routes non viable, which means returns at sea and returning people who come into Britain through illegal entry routes,” said Ms Elphicke.
“It is in both the UK and France’s interest to put an end to small boat crossings. It’s a danger to life and it is an unlawful criminal activity.”
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