Britain wants "greater flexibility" to return illegal immigrants to France

Britain wants greater flexibility to return illegal immigrants to France after a surge in the number embarking on the perilous journey across the English Channel, the UK government announced on Tuesday.

Hundreds of migrants have made the crossing to southern England from makeshift camps in northern France since Thursday, with many navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded rubber dinghies, Reuters reports.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he wants to stop the illegal crossings and has sent Immigration Minister Chris Philp to Paris for talks with the French government.


Britain says the EU’s so-called Dublin Regulation, which currently governs the return of illegal immigrants, is too inflexible and has very tight timeframes. Junior health minister Edward Argar said Johnson wanted more flexibility.

“What he’s looking at, quite rightly, is greater flexibility ... in returning people who have come here illegally ... and need to be returned back to France,” Argar told Sky News.

More than 20 migrants were escorted to Dover on Tuesday by the British border force. They make the dangerous crossing safe in the knowledge that they will be picked up at sea by UK naval vessels and escorted to the UK where there is little or no chance that they will ever be returned to France.

Many of the migrants seeking to reach Britain come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and countries in Africa, fleeing poverty, persecution or war.

Organised crime groups reportedly offer to help the migrants to cross the Channel for around £500 pounds, the Sun newspaper reported, adding that some smugglers offer “kids go free” deals.

The UK Home Office continues to decline repeated requests to supply data on the number of illegal crossings.

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