This weekend saw the return of angry demonstrators to Dover, who blocked Port traffic again. This comes after reports of more than 3,000 migrants entering the country illegally during 2021 so far, a huge increase on last year. Many more illegal entrants are forecast to come into the country over the Summer months.
Tackling the small boats Channel crossings illegal migration route is important for our community and our country, but also for the safety and wellbeing of those making these dangerous journeys. The National Crime Agency has long reported that the criminal gangs involved in illegal migration are also involved in people trafficking, guns and drugs. In recent weeks there has been a worrying rise in girls from countries across the world arriving alone facilitated by these gangs. This must stop. These are dangerous journeys in the hands of a criminal underworld which exploits those who are most in need.
Last week saw the Home Secretary announce wholesale reform of the asylum and immigration system. The reforms announced include a fully digital border system to enable the UK to act quickly to deny entry to foreign criminals, make the system easier to navigate for businesses, provide the ability to count people in and out of the UK, and streamline the process coming to the UK legally. These reforms also include a continued clamp down on people smugglers and the criminal gangs behind illegal migration, to make borders more secure.
The new border system plans are straightforward and sensible. When people come into the country, there will be a visa system. We will be able to know who’s here. As well as check when people leave, so we know who’s left the country and who hasn’t. If people don’t follow the rules then consequences will follow, including sending people back to other countries if they haven’t come through the right route. This will help tackle the illegal migration routes like the Channel crossings and visa overstayers.
I welcome these long-term reforms, but we do need to take more and firmer actions to tackle the Channel crossings and small boats right now and put a stop to this. That means doing more to stop the small boats leaving France in the first place, turn them round in the channel, and swiftly returning people who have entered the country through an illegal route of entry.
Britain has long been a country that welcomes people fleeing persecution and in need of asylum. That won’t change. Where people come in through safe legal routes, they will find the process easier and quicker. But in the future people will be disadvantaged if they come into the country through illegal migration routes from a safe country, such as France. That will be a powerful deterrent in stopping these illegal routes once and for all.