Migrants struggle onto a small boat while French police party in bars
Channel migrants are being deported within 48 hours of arriving in the UK, the Daily Express can reveal.
A Home Office flight which landed in Tirana, Albania, last week was carrying five men, aged 25, 20, 28, 27 and 22 who had been on UK soil for less than two days.
The Albanians had crossed the Channel in small boats on September 5, but were removed on September 7.
The Daily Express understands these are some of the fastest deportations on record.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick, speaking from Albania, told the Daily Express: “Albanians crossing illegally in small boats are being returned back to Tirana in a matter of days.
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“As we’ve done so, we have seen a more than 90 percent reduction in the number of Albanians arriving illegally, and overall small boat arrivals are down by 20 percent despite significant increases in illegal arrivals into Europe.
“It shows that swift returns deliver the deterrent effect that is so vitally needed to stop the boats – and it reinforces why delivering on our partnership with Rwanda is critical to securing our borders.”
Mr Jenrick met with Albanian interior minister Taulant Balla yesterday to discuss the deal struck by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in December. London and Tirana have agreed to expedite the removal of Albanians who arrive in small boats, hoping to deport them within weeks instead of months or years, in a bid to deter more people from making the crossing.
Some 3,529 Albanian migrants have been deported back to Albania since December, the Daily Express understands.
A Government source told the Daily Express: “Whilst Labour bang on about returning to the broken Dublin Convention – which saw us regularly take back more people than we returned – this Conservative Government has delivered a gold-standard returns agreement with Albania to create the crucial deterrent effect to stop small boat crossings.”
Dan O’Mahoney, the former Clandestine Channel Threat Commander charged with tackling the small boats crisis last Summer, said up to two per cent of Albania’s entire adult male population crossed the English Channel last year.
Some 12,301 Albanians arrived in the UK on small boats last year, fuelling fears organised crime groups were bringing over new recruits.
Many vanished from hotels to work in the UK’s ‘black economy’, for example on building sites, while some were brought over to work in cannabis farms.
Mr O’Mahoney warned MPs that 10,000 of the Albanian arrivals were single men and “large numbers…are deliberately gaming the system” by claiming asylum before disappearing.
But only 148 Albanians have arrived in the first half of this year, according to the latest Home Office figures, giving ministers confidence their deterrence policy will work on a wider scale.
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Border Force sources also believe a change in TikTok’s approach to adverts by people smugglers – where migrants are now diverted to a charity website warning them not to make the crossing – has also contributed to the fall.
And Mr Jenrick will on Thursday insist EU safety laws could be used to seize migrant boats before they reach the Channel.
The Daily Express understands Mr Jenrick will meet representatives from the German, Bulgarian, Italian and Croatian Governments to press for greater cooperation between European nations in the war against people smugglers. The UK believes the boats can be confiscated and destroyed because they are so unsafe.
The vast majority of the dangerously flimsy vessels are driven across the continent after being constructed in Turkey.
Many are believed to be stored in Germany until the day before they are needed to cross the English Channel.
Mr Jenrick said: “We will continue to press our European partners to seize small boat equipment on the continent.
“These consignments are directly linked to deadly organised immigration crime and these flimsy dinghies are also clear breaches of EU directives on safety. Nobody is using these death traps for recreational purposes.”
Many of the smuggling networks run through these countries and ministers want European law enforcement agencies to destroy the gangs’ supply routes.
This would drive up the price for migrants to cross the Channel as the smugglers attempt to recoup their costs.
Graeme Biggar, the Director General of the National Crime Agency, said last week: ““Their greatest vulnerability is the small boats themselves and the engines that power them so a lot of our effort at the moment is clearly focused on arresting the smugglers, the organisers, but very much on the small boats themselves and the engines.
“We know broadly where and how they are produced and the routes that they are coming in, so we are working with our international partners right up those routes to try to disrupt it.”
Former Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday warned climate change could fuel the migration crisis for years to come.
Asked if Britain needs a new returns agreement with the EU, Mrs May told LBC: “Yes. Most of the people who arrive, particularly those coming in small boats have been through other European countries.
“Somebody who is genuinely fleeing persecution, would be claiming asylum in the first safe country that they get to.
“But we do need to be talking to our European allies about this issue, which potentially will be exacerbated by climate change. We know significant numbers are spoken of in future migration and climate change could exacerbate that problem.”
“What we see from a lot of people migrating to the country illegally is they are economic migrants.
“They’re not fleeing persecution in the sense that one would normally recognise a refugee. I said, when I was Prime Minister at the United Nations, I think we need internationally to have a better way of differentiating between those who are refugees, and those who are economic migrants.
“And we need to have a look again at some of the rules that we all operate on internationally.”
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