It appears British authorities are still not able to get a handle on the illegal migrant influx despite a clear and loud mandate to do so in the Brexit referendum. The pace of illegal crossing via the La Manche Channel or inside trucks is steadily growing, prompting opinions that border controls and the UK asylum system continues to be in disarray even after the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Lending credence to the argument are alarming figures that show over 8,400 migrants have crossed the English Channel in 2020, which is quadruple the numbers from 2019.
As seen in the Napier Barracks incident two weeks ago, migrants are displaying reckless behavior even after making their way on to British soil. As reported in the British media, migrants who were earlier intercepted in the English Channel and housed in former military barracks in Kent, have deliberately set fire to their accommodations, endangering the lives of those living or working at the asylum center and causing enormous financial damage in the facilities.
The incident took place after several migrants were diagnosed with COVID-19, which in turn had prompted others to demand a transfer to another accommodation center.
The arson attack mirrors the tactics known from Greek migrant camps that were destroyed by their inhabitants in order to be allowed to be transferred to mainland Europe. British Home Secretary Priti Patel had called the arson “not only appalling but deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country who are providing this accommodation while asylum claims are being processed. This type of action will not be tolerated and the Home Office will support the police to take robust action against those vandalizing property, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.”
As the former army barracks was called unsuitable by some of those representing the illegal migrants who had called for them to be housed in nearby hotels, the home secretary called it “an insult to say that it is not good enough for these individuals.”
This is not the first time that migrants have used dangerous and irresponsible tactics to gain entry into Britain.
According to a report released in November 2020 by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), migrants intercepted on small dangerous boats in the Channel have deliberately endangered the lives of small children to force authorities to escort them to British territorial waters. The report claims that “migrants would resist being returned to France, and inspectors were told that there had been instances of migrants dangling babies overboard, and taking off life jackets and threatening to jump into the sea to frustrate efforts to board their vessel. As the number of migrants onboard was often above the safe level, any engagements at sea had to be managed extremely carefully.”
The continuing ineptitude of a succession of Conservative Party governments is also being exploited by the French border force, who have been observed several times guiding migrant boats into British waters. The report highlights that migrants themselves regard British Border Force vessels “as a ‘taxi service’. In the beginning, the small boats would attempt to make it all the way to the UK, but now they reached a certain point and then phoned emergency services in order to be rescued.”
According to the report, an immigration officer had complained that those caught during illegal crossings are transported to the accommodation centers for asylum seekers in taxis, after given fast-food by officers. Many of these people fail to arrive at the centers after such unsupervised taxi rides and simply disappear into the community. In 2016 alone, there were over 55.000 absconders.
Most of those caught crossing illegally via boats or in the back of trucks were identified as Iranians, Pakistanis and Eritreans. The British mainstream media, especially the BBC, have made harrowing reports about the fate of unaccompanied minors among them, who are housed with adults in what they called “unsuitable” accommodation. However, according to Home Office figures, over half of all asylum seekers lie about their age in order to gain preferential treatment during their asylum application. In those checked, over 52 percent have been found to be over the age of 18.