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Tories urged to create a ‘humanitarian visa system’ for asylum-seekers in France

REFUGEE campaigners urged Tory ministers “to confront reality” today, as record numbers of people risk their lives to cross the English Channel in dangerous small boats.

Despite repeated vows by the Home Office to make the route “unviable,” 30 boats carrying at least 828 people crossed from France on Saturday alone — a new record for the current crisis.

The tally eclipses the previous daily record of 592 people, set less than two weeks ago.

More than 12,400 asylum-seekers have now attempted to reach Britain via the same route this year, according to data compiled by the PA news agency, with many drowning on route.  

Earlier this month, a 27-year-old man from Eritrea died after he and four other people jumped overboard as their boat started to sink.

Detention Action director Bella Sankey said: “Refugees will continue to come to the UK, as they have for centuries, as long as there are despots, wars and persecution in this world.

“To end the use of small boats, MPs should create a humanitarian visa system for people in France who are travelling to the UK so they can arrive here in safety and with dignity to make their claims.”

The Home Office’s Dan O’Mahoney claimed that the crossings from “safe [European Union] countries are completely unnecessary” and the government department is determined to “take down the evil criminal gangs behind them.”

Mr Mahoney, whose ominous job title is “clandestine Channel threat commander,” added: “We’re working across government as well as with French and international partners to tackle this issue.”

The TUC demanded today that ministers urgently suspend all deportation flights and address “the miscarriages of justice that have taken place within the immigration system.”

The union confederation said that the Home Office has often failed to adequately check the circumstances of those they targeted for deportation on expensive commercial charter flights.  

The continued use of such flights, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, has resulted in “ongoing incidents of trauma” for those targeted and the workers involved, the TUC added. 

It also reiterated calls for the government to drop its widely condemned Nationality and Borders Bill, which aims to criminalise asylum-seekers who arrive via “unofficial routes.”

In a statement, the union body said it “stands for the rights of all workers from all countries, regardless of immigration status.”

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