By James Slack for the Daily Mail
Published: 00:02 GMT, 23 March 2015
• Immigrants make it across the entire EU without a single border check
• Due to heightened lorry security, many try to stow away in cars
• British tourists are being warned they might be targeted in Calais
British tourists are today warned to beware migrants trying to stow away in their cars or caravans amid a ‘crisis’ at Calais.
An investigation by MPs found illegal immigrants heading for Britain are making it across the entire EU without a single border check.
Ahead of the Easter getaway, the situation has become so severe lorries are being told not to stop within 125 miles of the port for fear of people trying to clamber aboard. MPs say that, as a result of greater lorry security, cars and motor homes are a prime target.
In a report published today, the Commons home affairs committee says migrants trying to reach the ‘El Dorado’ of Britain are being caught at a rate of 100 a day.At the same time, the number gathering in squalid camps around Calais has almost doubled to 2,500 in the space of a few months.
The committee found evidence of migrants who arrived in the EU via Turkey or Italy making their way to Calais without ‘encountering any border controls’.
Its report, titled ‘Migration failures lead to a crisis in Calais’, blamed the Schengen Agreement allowing EU citizens to travel from one member state to another without passport checks.
The UK opts out of the agreement, which Margaret Thatcher refused to sign 30 years ago to sneers from fellow European leaders. But even the French authorities have now declared Schengen a ‘failure’.
Borders allowing access to the EU are not being properly policed, allowing tens of thousands of people from the likes of Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Syria to flood in via Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of European border agency Frontex, has warned that Libya alone has up to a million potential migrants ready to leave for the EU. The number massed at Calais has almost doubled since September from 1,300 to 2,500.
Sir Charles Montgomery, director-general of the Home Office’s Border Force, said staff detected 30,180 attempts to enter the UK in the ten months to the end of January. This compared to 18,000 in the entire preceding year.
Yet when caught, the migrants were handed over to the French who simply let them go.
The MPs say: ‘We find it bizarre that there are thousands of attempts to enter the UK illegally through Calais, at great cost and inconvenience to business and leisure travellers, transport companies, and hauliers, and yet the people who are caught are simply released back into the French countryside.’ The Government is helping to fund more security fences around Calais.
THEY USED MY FIAT PANDA TO SNEAK INTO THE UK
When she found an illegal immigrant hiding in the back seat of her Fiat Panda after driving home from France, Sue Taber couldn’t believe her eyes.
Miss Taber thinks the man sneaked into her car when she left it briefly unlocked at Calais in September last year.
Discovering him upon arrival in Kent, Miss Taber told the man ‘in no uncertain terms’ to ‘get lost’.
She said at the time: ‘I’ve got a Fiat Panda for goodness sake, with two dogs in the back.
‘And I’ve managed to get though passport control and everything else with a stowaway on board.’
But the report says there are fears that as security around freight traffic increases, migrants ‘will adapt to hiding in a wider variety of vehicles, including private cars or caravans’.
The home affairs committee warns: ‘Schengen was intended to allow free movement, but not the free movement of illegal migrants. It was based on the assumption that the external border would be secure.’
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: ‘The crisis in Calais is a direct result of the soft EU external border in the Southern Mediterranean and the Greek-Turkish border.’
The MPs also cast doubt on the Home Office’s ability to carry out new exit checks on everybody leaving the country from April 8.
Ferry operators have warned the measure could create travel chaos for passengers and long queues. The MPs said they expected ministers to agree a series of exemptions – such as not checking the passports of British tourists leaving by coach.
A Home Office spokesman said it had committed £12million to help reinforce security at Calais, ‘including installing security fencing and improving the flow of traffic to reduce the risk of queuing vehicles being targeted by migrants’.