Undocumented Migrants: English Channel

Home Office written question – answered on 18th May 2020.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many illegal migrants have entered the UK via the English Channel since 1 January 2020; and how many of those illegal migrants were returned to France in that period.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

People crossing the Channel to enter the UK have come from a safe country – usually France – and so there is no reason why they need to make this trip in order to claim asylum. Those fleeing persecution should stay in the first safe country they enter.

The UK continues to work closely with France and other countries to return migrants who have entered the UK by small boat in order to provide a strong deterrent against these dangerous crossings.

The number of migrants arriving in the UK crossing the Channel by small boats for the months of January to March 2020 is approx. 450. These are provisional figures based on operational management information. The figures for April have not passed through a data quality check and cannot be assured. The final figures will be published at a later date, once they have been verified

Since January 2019, over 155 people who entered the UK illegally on small boats have been returned to Europe. However, as a result of COVID-19 the vast majority of EU member states have temporarily paused accepting returns under the Dublin Regulations, but we are tracking those individuals and where appropriate will seek to return them when routes are available.

The processes to manage clandestine arrivals are kept under regular review. In line with Public Health Guidance we are not currently providing routine testing for clandestine arrivals to the UK. In line with established processes, those arriving across the Channel are immediately assessed to establish whether there are any medical requirements. Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 are provided with suitable accommodation in which to self-isolate.

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