Migrant boat crossings

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plodder
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Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:26 pm

Really complex this, notwithstanding the tragedy yesterday.

Are there any useful sources that explain why this phenomena has increased over the past couple of years? I'd expected that the closing of the 'Jungle' in Calais would have had an effect but maybe not.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by discovolante » Thu Nov 25, 2021 1:37 pm

Gov has removed a lot of 'legal' routes of entry.

Here endeth entirely unreferenced post, I'll leave someone more diligent to fill in the gaps for now :P
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by discovolante » Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:09 pm

Not a direct source as such, but clip here of Zoe Gardner from the joint council for the welfare of immigrants commenting that actual numbers of asylum applications have been stable for the last decade: https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status ... 76132?s=20

She is worth following on twitter, as is daniel sohege. Both very pro migrant but they post links and stuff if you don't believe them.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Fishnut » Thu Nov 25, 2021 3:31 pm

The first thing to note is that these are not "migrants" in the traditional sense of people who have decided to leave their home in search of work for which they could apply for visas and travel to the UK via conventional methods. Sky News says that 98% of people arriving by boat across the channel claim asylum. These are asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers can claim asylum in any country they choose. They are not obligated to do so in the first country they reach after fleeing their home, though many do. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Turkey has the highest number of refugees in the world due to its border with Syria, hosting 3.7 million people. Next is Columbia with 1.7 million displaced people due to the situation in Venezuela. 73% of refugees and displaced people are hosted in neighbouring counties and 85% are hosted in developing countries. In other words the impression that the UK gives about being inundated with refugees and being the intended destination for many is false. According to Home Office figures published in March of this year there are currently 64,000 people in the UK receiving asylum support and the asylum system costs £1 billion (which I make to be about £15,625 per person if I've got the right billion, though I'm unclear if this includes the legal costs of their applications and appeals). It's also worth noting that asylum seekers in the UK are prohibited from working out of fears this would "create a pull factor for illegal immigration like never before".

The number of asylum applications the UK has received over the last 2 years has declined significantly. Using the UNHCR's Refugee Data Finder you can plot the number of applications received over the last 21 years. They have been consistent for the last 15 years or so prior to the decline in 2020. They're also consistently and significantly fewer than France receives.
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So the first thing to note is that we are not, despite the claims of the right-wing press, being overwhelmed with migrants, refugees or asylum seekers. Western Europe (apart from Germany which has made concerted efforts to welcome refugees) has experienced very little of the refugee crisis. France receives far more asylum seekers than the UK - people are not simply 'passing through' France to reach the hallowed shores of England. The vast majority of refugees entering France do so with the intention of staying in France.

And while the number of people crossing by boat has increased, they still make up only a fraction of asylum seekers. Migration Observatory notes that in 2020 the Home Office said that around 8,500 people arrived by crossing the channel in small boats, constituting just under a quarter of asylum claims that year. The Home Office also said that 62% of claims were made by those who entered the UK "illegally", leaving 38% having entered legally. Migration Observatory said,
It is not clear how the remaining 38% arrived in the UK, but this may include people who arrived on a visa not designed for claiming asylum, or people who were already in the UK when conditions in their country of origin deteriorated.
Why Cross By Boat?
As to your question about why we are seeing more crossings by boat. As Disco has so succinctly put it, the legal routes for asylum seekers have been cut off.

To claim asylum you must physically be in the country in which you wish to claim asylum. To claim asylum in an island nation that means crossing a body of water, either by plane or by boat. There is no "asylum seeker" visa that someone can apply for in order to enter the UK - they must apply after they reach our shores. There are resettlement schemes available to bring eligible people from specific conflict zones to the UK and these schemes can be applied for while in the home country. However, the numbers of people brought to the UK under these schemes are tiny. Plus they were closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. I think they were restarted at the end of 2020 but haven't confirmed that yet.

To use conventional methods of transport requires possession of paperwork required for crossing borders: passports and visas. These are nearly impossible to get if you are trying to flee a conflict zone. According to the Civil Liberties Union for Europe there's an EU directive that sanctions airlines if they transport passengers who don't have valid travel documents. There's a caveat in this directive that says travel in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention is still permitted so they shouldn't prevent refugees from seeking asylum, but,
The directive leaves airline personnel to decide who is a potential asylum seeker. Imagine that. Airline staff, with no relevant experience, have 45 seconds to take a decision on who is and who is not a refugee, while embassies can take months. Carriers are threatened with fines if they allow entry to an undocumented migrant, but there are no penalties for denying entry to an asylum seeker. Thus, airline companies refuse permission to board the plane to people who don’t have valid documents. They have nothing to gain but much to lose.
So if you can't fly, you're left with boat. Commercial ferries are out for the same reasons as airlines. So you're left with either chartering a vessel yourself or trying to sneak onto a vessel. We know that trucks were a popular method of accessing ferries from Calais but countermeasures have made these much less attractive to asylum seekers. From Euronews,
Claire Millot, from the Salam migrant welfare NGO, told Euronews that a decade ago, it would usually take three weeks for a migrant to successfully cross the English Channel stashed away on a lorry.

To curb such crossings, dogs were deployed, followed by carbon dioxide detectors which flag whether someone is breathing even if they are well hidden. Now, lorries are randomly put through scanners and the average crossing time is counted in terms of months instead of weeks.
So as lorries have become increasingly risky, refugees turn to another option - chartering boats. A lot of the boats being used are dinghys which are cheap to buy and easy to steal. According to this sailing site, in good weather you can cross the channel in 4 hours, but it can take significantly longer. They also point out,
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the English Channel is an extremely busy sea area with lots and lots of ships and ferries coming and going throughout the year. This means that it is not advisable to use a small sailboat. But if you have to use a small sailboat, you have to make sure that you do not get closer to the ships and ferries.
This live shipping map shows just how busy it is, particularly between Dover and Calais. It is a highly risky endeavour to do without experience and proper safety equipment. So why are people bothering at all? Why risk your life when you could stay in France?

Why Come to the UK At All?
According to Migration Observatory,
In 2002, the Home Office published a report on the decision-making of asylum-seekers in general (and so not Channel migrants in particular). The research was based on 65 interviews, and there is no way of knowing how representative this sample is. The report found that seven main factors led to migrants seeking asylum in the UK:
- The desire to reach a safe place, with the UK being viewed as safe, though not necessarily more safe than other countries;
- The ability to pay for long distance travel;
- The selection of the UK by the agent (such as a smuggler), with the migrants not being given a choice;
- The presence of friends or relatives in the UK;
- The belief that the UK is a tolerant and democratic country;
- Previous links between their origin country and the UK, including colonial links;
- The ability to speak English or a desire to learn it.

Importantly, the researchers found little evidence that the respondents had a detailed knowledge of UK asylum procedures, benefit entitlements, or the availability of work in the UK. There was even less evidence that the respondents had a comparative knowledge of how these conditions varied between different European destination countries.
A more recent peer-reviewed study from 2018, found similar reasons,
Preferred destinations are rarely identified solely, or even primarily, on the basis of migration policies devised by different governments with the explicit aim of reducing the number of arrivals. Rather they reflect the “coming together” of a wide range of factors, including access to protection and family reunification, the availability/accuracy of information, the overall economic environment and social networks. Moreover perceptions of migration policies may be more significant than their content as the implications are often not known or misunderstood.
As Care 4 Calais puts it,
Imagine being in Afghanistan, where everything is foreign to you – the language, the customs, the food. Then imagine having to consider staying there because you have lost your home, your family and your job. If you had a brother, or a cousin nearby who could help you navigate this foreign place, wouldn’t you do anything to get to them?
ETA another heading
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm

Fishnut thanks, I means there's loads there - too much to respond to. But hugely useful.

If people are being smuggled by people who know the system then it's understandable that they may a) claim asylum and b) not personally know how to game the system - they may have just been told "claim asylum, that's the way to make it stick". The smugglers are professionals, charging a lot of money - this will almost certainly include advice on what to do and what will happen when the boats land. For this reason I'm sure people who ought to be labelled 'migrants' are mixed in with the 'asylum seekers' - it's a more reliable route of entry.

On recent numbers of people entering via 'infomal routes' (is that the best terminology?), a couple of years of covid will downtick a lot of metrics, so I'm not sure how much to read into that.

You raise an excellent point about it being far more difficult to smuggle across the border via lorries and ferries etc ,and how the legal liability has been put onto drivers. I guess they didn't really think that through.

On a personal note, a big chunk of my family ran away from Hitler and ended up here, so I'm very sympathetic to refugees / migrants of all stripes. I'm not looking to debate whether immigration is a bad thing, just look for the mechanisms so I can understand what's currently happening (and why these dangerous boats are being allowed to disembark in the first place - the French (to my eyes) are not covering themselves in glory here.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Fishnut » Thu Nov 25, 2021 5:47 pm

plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
If people are being smuggled by people who know the system then it's understandable that they may a) claim asylum and b) not personally know how to game the system - they may have just been told "claim asylum, that's the way to make it stick". The smugglers are professionals, charging a lot of money - this will almost certainly include advice on what to do and what will happen when the boats land. For this reason I'm sure people who ought to be labelled 'migrants' are mixed in with the 'asylum seekers' - it's a more reliable route of entry.
Migration Observatory has a breakdown of nationalities of people coming in by small boat across the channel between 2019 and 2020. The vast majority of people are from Iran (51%), with Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan making up a majority of the rest. While there may be people who have left stable homes in search of better job opportunities in their number, I suspect it is a small percentage. The 2% who do not claim asylum does not sound unreasonable.

It's also worth noting that the nationality of asylum seekers entering the UK via small boats does not closely correlate with the nationality of asylum seekers entering by all methods. Using the UNHCR data, Albania is actually the source of most immigrants this year and has been a consistently high source of asylum seekers for at least the last 5 years.
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This suggests that there are routes available to some asylum seekers that are not available for others. Crossing by boat is expensive and dangerous. It's not a surprise, therefore, to find that people who can get into the country by other means choose to do so. With the exception of Iran, the other countries that people arriving by boat come from are predominantly conflict zones meaning it is unlikely they can get paperwork to come into the country via conventional routes in order to claim asylum upon landing/docking. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And people don't stick their kids on a tiny boat to cross one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world unless they feel it's their only option.

With regards to Iran, this is a BBC article from 2018 discussing the factors that have led so many Iranians to flee Iran and seek asylum in the UK. The TL:DR is that Serbia began offering visa-free access to Iranians in August 2017 that allowed thousands to enter Europe. As they are richer than most refugees they can afford to pay for smugglers to get them across the channel. This Al Jazeera piece gives some insight into the circumstances that are leading people to leave the country. The dates of those pieces show that this is not a recent issue and the fact that the government's consistent response over the last 4 years has been to demonise those coming to the UK by small boat without providing any alternative routes is shameful.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:03 pm

Thanks, that's really chewy and nutritious.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Fishnut » Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:27 pm

You're welcome. It's been interesting learning about this stuff myself. Don't take anything I've said as definitive - there's a reason I try and link to all my sources! But I've done my best to provide factual information.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Fishnut » Thu Nov 25, 2021 10:58 pm

Robert Peston claims that immigration is the top concern of voters. Polls disagree.

From FullFact,
YouGov asked adults in Great Britain most recently on 22 November 2021 to pick up to three of the most important issues facing the country. The top three responses were health (49%), the economy (40%) and the environment (35%). Immigration and asylum were fourth with 34%. (These figures are analysed to remove random fluctuations in the data due to sampling variability. If this isn’t done immigration and asylum are even lower with 22%).

Ipsos MORI polled people between 5 and 11 November and found climate change was mentioned most as a concern (40%). Coronavirus and pandemic diseases came second with 27% and Brexit issues and the NHS/healthcare were both third with 22%. Immigration and immigrants were mentioned by 11%.

It's understood Mr Peston's comment about immigration being the single issue that voters care about was based on his own findings from conversations with MPs rather than any specific data.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by nekomatic » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:06 am

plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
why these dangerous boats are being allowed to disembark in the first place - the French (to my eyes) are not covering themselves in glory here.
I assume you mean ‘embark’ - what specifically do you think the French authorities should be doing? Confiscating the boats? Arresting the people? Realistically, what do you expect will happen next?
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:17 am

nekomatic wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:06 am
plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
why these dangerous boats are being allowed to disembark in the first place - the French (to my eyes) are not covering themselves in glory here.
I assume you mean ‘embark’ - what specifically do you think the French authorities should be doing? Confiscating the boats? Arresting the people? Realistically, what do you expect will happen next?
Yeah, you know, the special beach police the French have* who patrol the entire coastline 24/7 so that nobody can slip away unnoticed in a little boat.

*known for their famous motto, A l'eau, c'est l'heure!
You can shove your climate crisis up your arse!

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Martin_B » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:39 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:17 am
*known for their famous motto, A l'eau, c'est l'heure!
You are Barry Cryer, AICMFP!
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:15 am

plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
You raise an excellent point about it being far more difficult to smuggle across the border via lorries and ferries etc ,and how the legal liability has been put onto drivers. I guess they didn't really think that through.
I suspect they did think it through and decided that it was a small price to pay for a populist policy.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 26, 2021 4:23 am

plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
why these dangerous boats are being allowed to disembark in the first place - the French (to my eyes) are not covering themselves in glory here.
France is putting a large amount of effort into preventing undocumented people from crossing the Channel in small boats. It claims to have spent €217 million on preventing crossings, including patrols by 600-650 police officers, gendarmes and other personnel. France has also established intelligence sharing with the UK. Official figures show that 10 522 people attempting to cross were arrested between August 2020 and August 2021.
Link in French see section 3: http://www.senat.fr/rap/r20-871/r20-871 ... tml#toc130

In July Britain agreed to pay France an extra EUR 63 million for France to step up measures to stop people crossing the Channel. The money would finance several measures including increasing the number of officers on patrol and buying surveillance equipment: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... -july-2021

However in October France complained that Britain hadn’t paid up: (link in French) https://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/haut ... 03367.html

The July deal built upon a 2003 agreement by which France agreed to allow the UK to set up an immigration checkpoint in French territory (and vice versa) and Britain would pay France to prevent undocumented migrants crossing the Channel: https://www.france24.com/en/20180117-fr ... key-points

France is arresting thousands of people and has invested significant resources into stopping the boat crossings. However, the coastline is over a hundred miles and it’s going to be impossible to stop everyone who wants to cross.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Martin_B » Fri Nov 26, 2021 6:16 am

I wonder why people trying boat crossings try Calais-Dover (which is actually a pretty dangerous route - rough seas and lots of marine traffic) and not cross from the Normandy coast to the Channel Islands, where they should be able to claim asylum. Is the sea around Jersey as rough as the Channel?
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 26, 2021 6:34 am

Martin_B wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 6:16 am
I wonder why people trying boat crossings try Calais-Dover (which is actually a pretty dangerous route - rough seas and lots of marine traffic) and not cross from the Normandy coast to the Channel Islands, where they should be able to claim asylum. Is the sea around Jersey as rough as the Channel?
I’m guessing that as the Channel Islands aren’t legally part of the UK someone landing there wouldn’t be able to claim asylum in the UK.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Fri Nov 26, 2021 7:30 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 4:23 am
plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
why these dangerous boats are being allowed to disembark in the first place - the French (to my eyes) are not covering themselves in glory here.
France is putting a large amount of effort into preventing undocumented people from crossing the Channel in small boats. It claims to have spent €217 million on preventing crossings, including patrols by 600-650 police officers, gendarmes and other personnel. France has also established intelligence sharing with the UK. Official figures show that 10 522 people attempting to cross were arrested between August 2020 and August 2021.
Link in French see section 3: http://www.senat.fr/rap/r20-871/r20-871 ... tml#toc130

In July Britain agreed to pay France an extra EUR 63 million for France to step up measures to stop people crossing the Channel. The money would finance several measures including increasing the number of officers on patrol and buying surveillance equipment: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... -july-2021

However in October France complained that Britain hadn’t paid up: (link in French) https://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/haut ... 03367.html

The July deal built upon a 2003 agreement by which France agreed to allow the UK to set up an immigration checkpoint in French territory (and vice versa) and Britain would pay France to prevent undocumented migrants crossing the Channel: https://www.france24.com/en/20180117-fr ... key-points

France is arresting thousands of people and has invested significant resources into stopping the boat crossings. However, the coastline is over a hundred miles and it’s going to be impossible to stop everyone who wants to cross.
Thanks Chops. The relevant bit of the coastline (where it’s a shortish hop across for a small boat) is much shorter, this is why they’re all congregating in Calais. They don’t need to patrol 100km of coastline to address the current problem.

It’s occurred to me that small boats are used because they can disembark (thanks Neko) on UK beaches, thus avoiding harbour authorities.

The concern I have is that if short small-boat crossings are prevented from Calais we’ll start seeing long small-boat crossings from further up the coast.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by nekomatic » Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:50 am

My question is what happens after someone is ‘prevented’ from embarking in a small boat.

If they’re arrested on some sort of maritime safety grounds then they’ll clog up the French courts for a bit, eventually get out, and try again.

If they’re arrested for being in France illegally and threatened with deportation, they will presumably resort to claiming asylum in France. This is what Priti Patel and the Daily Express would like them to do, but from the French perspective it amounts to helping Britain avoid its legal duty to refugees and I can see why France would be unwilling to do this.
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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by veravista » Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:35 am

And then the lard bucket publishes his letter to Macron demanding that the French take back the asylum seekers/refugees and they uninvite Pritti Patel.

Way to go sh.t for brains

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:42 am

veravista wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:35 am
And then the lard bucket publishes his letter to Macron demanding that the French take back the asylum seekers/refugees and they uninvite Pritti Patel.

Way to go sh.t for brains
Yup, it’s like dead pregnant women and infants are a handy political football. I was trying to avoid this bit of the situation tbh as the facts are interesting enough. The solution clearly lies on the French side of the border if we narrow the conversation to the practical matter of people crossing the channel in tiny craft.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by veravista » Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:00 pm

But you can't sort a problem out without involving the channel facing countries all being involved.

Tweeting a letter that you've just personally written to your counterpart so that the gutter press can spurt off about it is not going to solve the problem.

All parties need to take some responsibility and agree a solution. Posturing to appease the xenophobes will not solve anything.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by plodder » Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:57 pm

Yes. But the tit-for-tat stuff (there’s a French election coming up so there’s posturing on both sides) is distracting.

I’m wondering about an increase in Afghani refugees in the very near future. If the majority of the boat crossings are Iranian / Kurds is there a chart somewhere showing which ethnic groups tend to migrate in which directions?

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:02 pm

plodder wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:41 pm
Thanks Chops. The relevant bit of the coastline (where it’s a shortish hop across for a small boat) is much shorter, this is why they’re all congregating in Calais. They don’t need to patrol 100km of coastline to address the current problem.
The French are monitoring beaches from the border with Belgium down to Le Crotoy, which is a bit more than 100km. Le Crotoy is circa 50km from Eastbourne which is close enough for a small boat.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by bjn » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:11 pm

veravista wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:00 pm
But you can't sort a problem out without involving the channel facing countries all being involved.

Tweeting a letter that you've just personally written to your counterpart so that the gutter press can spurt off about it is not going to solve the problem.

All parties need to take some responsibility and agree a solution. Posturing to appease the xenophobes will not solve anything.
The posturing is the point, not any actual attempt at solving the “problem”.

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Re: Migrant boat crossings

Post by nekomatic » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:45 pm

plodder wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:42 am
The solution clearly lies on the French side of the border if we narrow the conversation to the practical matter of people crossing the channel in tiny craft.
Technically that could easily be solved entirely from the UK, by the UK telling the ferry and tunnel operators ‘if someone doesn’t have proper immigration papers but says they want to claim asylum, we will not fine you for carrying them and make you take them back again’.

Pragmatically that would probably lead to other problems like people boarding ferries then trying to stow away on vehicles before arriving, or other risky stuff, so the better option would be to agree with France that the UK could receive and begin processing asylum applicants in Calais. But that’s not what the UK wants to do, rather it seems to want France to act (in the memorable words of one of my Twitter follows) as its ‘f.cking butler’.
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