Mar 31, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Britain to blame for illegal immigrant crisis, says Calais mayor

Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of the French port, says Britain should be forced to abandon border checks for travellers arriving from Europe
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent – 30 Mar 2015
Britain is to blame for illegal immigrant problems on the French side of the Channel because of its lack of commitment to the “European project”, the mayor of Calais has claimed.
Natacha Bouchart accused the British government of “despising” the native population of Calais and said the UK should be forced to sign up to Europe’s open borders agreement.
Miss Bouchart intensified her war of words with Britain as the French port struggles to cope with thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly from African countries, who have gathered in the town to attempt illegal crossings into this country.
In an interview given by Miss Bouchart to the Council of Europe’s journal, she said: “We are suffering the consequences of the British government’s actions, which takes from Europe the things that suit it, but doesn’t want to get fully involved in the European project.
“The British government … has a tendency too often to despise the local population, to disregard elected officials, and frankly will take no part of the responsibility.”
She repeated previous claims that Britain’s generous benefits system is a magnet for illegal immigrants
“They want to go to England because they can expect better conditions on arrival there than anywhere else in Europe or even internationally,” the mayor said.
“There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled.
“They can get social welfare support that doesn’t exist in other countries.
“It’s migrants themselves who arrive in England, and who pass on the message that there is plenty more space for migrants to come.”
She said Calais had to deal with the migrants because Britain “has not adopted the EU rules contained in the Schengen agreement”, which removed internal border controls across 26 member states.
The Home Office set up UK border controls in France 15 years ago in a bid to prevent illegal immigrants reaching British soil to claim asylum.
“The UK is not really interested, since border controls take place on French soil,” said Miss Bouchart.
“It provides no support to the city of Calais, nor to the local population, and it leaves the mayor of Calais to manage the problem without financial assistance.”
In another thinly-veiled reference to Britain, she added: “A country cannot remain both in and out of Europe, creating problems but providing no compensation and no support to local authorities, such as mine and others, which are left alone to assume huge responsibilities.”
The mayor called for the EU to force all nations to join a new version of the Schengen system – meaning Britain would be required to drop passport checks at the border.
“At European level we need to insist that all EU countries sign up to the Schengen accords, which must also be revised,” said Miss Bouchart.
“Each European country must be obliged to participate in a new mechanism.
“There must be restrictions, quotas that are revised every two to three years according to world events, because that’s key.
“Each country will have to create reception centres to provide the humanitarian assistance to migrants – something that doesn’t yet exist.
“We need to sanction European countries who don’t want to take any responsibility in this global problem.
“Attention paid to the consequences of migration is inadequate.
“We need to stop the hypocrisy. This is not going to stop tomorrow. The conflicts continue. People continue to arrive.”.
Many were prepared to risk their lives in order to reach Britain, believing they are heading to “El Dorado”, she said.
“The real magnet is not the city of Calais but the benefits that are perceived in Great Britain,” she told the home affairs select committee.

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