People crossing Channel are 'asylum shopping', says ex-Calais border boss

1 June 2022, 18:47

By Seán Hickey

The former Chief Immigration Officer of UK Border Force in Calais declares that asylum seekers arriving in the UK from France are 'asylum shoppers'.

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The UK is set to export its first lot of asylum seekers to Rwanda on 14 June as the Home Office rolls out its deportation scheme.

Andrew Pierce was reflecting on the news with Kevin Saunders, formerly the Chief Immigration Officer of UK Border Force in Calais.

Read more: First group of migrants to be sent to Rwanda in two weeks, Home Office says

Andrew pointed out that the UK "can only send 100 refugees" to Rwanda at any given time as part of the bilateral agreement. Mr Saunders stressed that despite the rule, "it will be a deterrent" to people crossing the Channel.

"We're going to be sending the single men who may or may not be asylum seekers off to Rwanda and i think it'll send a message to them."

Read more: James O'Brien asks whether the 'Homes for Ukraine' refugee scheme was 'designed to fail'

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Unprovoked, Mr Saunders began to break down the demographics of asylum seekers crossing the Channel.

"We see from the people coming off the boats that at least 70% of the people coming off the boats appear to be single men. Are they genuine asylum seekers or are they not? The feeling is they are not."

"You think they're asylum shopping?" Andrew asked.

"Very much so. That was very much my experience when I was working in France" the former Border Force chief stated.

He went on to make the case that Britain's generosity is a major pull factor for people in Calais, referencing the support for Ukrainians as an example.

"The trouble is we can't keep accepting people who don't arrive here in the right and proper manner."

"These people are not playing the game. they're destroying all their documents, we have no idea who they are. they're risking their lives, they're risking law enforcers lives, it's costing the Great British taxpayer £5 million a day in hotel rooms."