Natasha Devon 7pm - 9pm
'Woke' welcome signs for Channel migrants at Dover to be replaced as minister 'launches mobile phones crackdown'
19 April 2023, 14:07 | Updated: 19 April 2023, 15:23
“Woke” welcome signs for Channel migrants in Dover are to be replaced by notices making it "unambiguously clear" they have broken the law and will be removed from the UK.
The immigration minister Robert Jenrick was said to to shocked to discover welcome signs that feature colour branding on Britain's southern border, which had turned the site at which asylum seekers arrive into a “welcoming”, rather than a “law enforcement" environment.
A source quoted by The Telegraph said: “He has ordered that they remove all of the woke signage and make it unambiguously clear to arrivals that they have broken the law and that they can expect to be removed, and that if they facilitated arrivals they can expect to be told they will be prosecuted.
They added: “It needs to be a law enforcement environment for those who have broken the law and entered the UK illegally, not a welcome centre.”
Border Force officers will also be given additional powers in an amendment to the controversial Illegal Immigration Bill to seize and examine migrants’ mobiles, which are seen as a potential “gold mine” of intelligence.
It's thought the information could help establish the identity of migrants, as well as where they have been and where they have come from, the outlet reports.
The new powers will be supported by a new specialist unit of experts on immigration and tech to examine the devices “in real time” as potentially the primary source of information on the background of people arriving via the Channel crossing.
“He has instructed the team to seize more phones. The view is that we are not doing enough. We will bolster the team with more manpower,” the source said.
Migrants are told by Channel smugglers not to arrive in UK with any documents.
Data released through a Freedom of Information request last year revealed that just 317 of 16,510 Channel migrants were in possession of passports when they were picked up by Border Force, meaning 16,300 had entered the country without documentation.
Mr Jenrick has also told Border Force he wants migrants to face more probing interviews to find out their origins, the identity of the people-smugglers who brought them to the country, and their contacts.
“We want to strengthen our understanding of migrants’ patterns with a view to tackling the migrant crisis more upstream,” the source said.
Immigration officials have already been given additional powers to hold migrants for up to five days at the Manston processing facility in exceptional circumstances, having previously had a maximum of 24 hours.
It comes amid an acceleration in the number of asylum seekers crossing the English channel.
Home Office data released on Tuesday showed that so far this year, 5,049 people made the crossing in 121 boats - an average of 42 people per vessel.
Rishi Sunak made his "stop the boats" pledge one of five main priorities announced at the beginning of the year.
But he has since backtracked on his vow to end Channel crossings by the next election, admitting it is a "complicated problem" with "no single, simple solution".