Channel migrants are sent 500 miles on buses to Scotland after arriving on beaches in Kent as record 4,000 make dangerous crossing this month

  • Dozens took the eight-hour journey to Dungavel immigration detention centre
  • Until now, migrants have been processed in Home Office facilities near Dover 
  • A baby clutching its mother’s chest among 200 migrants to arrive yesterday

What happens when someone arrives in the UK after crossing the Channel?

By Rory Tingle

The vast majority of people crossing the Channel in small boats claim asylum, according to the Refugee Council. At this point the process for what happens varies depending on whether they are an adult, unaccompanied minor or a family unit. 

ADULT 

1 – Immediately transferred to a short-term holding facility dotted around the country, generally in southern England. Fingerprints are taken and they have a screening interview where they provide their name, date of birth and nationality. This registers them into the asylum system. 

2 – One or two days later the asylum seekers would usually be sent to a hostel run by the Home Office, but in the last few years these have become full so officials are using hotels.   

3 – Two to three weeks later they are dispersed to a town or city anywhere in the UK into ‘housing in the community’ – although these time scales have stretched recent years. In addition, dispersal accommodation has often been full so the Home Office has relied on rented accomodation from three private providers.  The asylum seekers receive housing and £39.63 a week as a cash allowance. 

4 – The asylum seekers are issued with a form called a preliminary information questionnaire (PIC) where they are asked why they have a fear of persecution. At some point they are invited to the Home Office for substantive interview where they will be asked questions based on information from their screening interview and PIC form.

4 – If the initial decision is a refusal, the applicant can appeal to an independent tribunal. Their accommodation and support would continue. 

5 – If they get an initial refusal and they don’t appeal or their appeal is refused they become what’s known in official jargon as ‘appeal rights exhausted’. The Home Office will send them a letter saying they will be evicted and the weekly support will stop. 

6 – They have the option of signing up to the Voluntary Return Scheme, under which the Home Office will pay for their flights. If they don’t sign up they are liable to being picked up and detained by immigration officers and perhaps forcibly removed. But they are not enough detention spaces for people in that situation so they often become homeless and destitute, the Refugee Council said.

CHILD

Children (under 18) are sent to a short term holding facility for a much shorter amount of time and then transferred into the care of a local authority. They are allocated a social worker and accomodation.

The Home Office cannot remove minors if they have been separated from their parents. However, if their asylum claim is unsuccessful they could be given a form of leave to remain until they are 17 and a half. 

FAMILY 

The only slight difference is that if a family become an ‘appeal rights exhausted’ case the Home Office wouldn’t evict them from the accommodation or stop their financial support. 

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Channel migrants sent 500 miles to notorious Dungavel centre in Scotland for asylum processing

Migrants who risk their lives crossing the English Channel are being sent to the Dungavel detention centre in Scotland for processing as the Home Office buckles under the rising numbers.

Dozens of Channel boat people have been sent to the notorious Dungavel immigration detention centre in Strathaven, South Lanarkshire in the last few weeks.

Until crossings rose to record levels those arriving on the Kent coast in the south of England were taken to short-term holding facilities in immigration detention centres close by.

The Dungavel immigration removal centre, which is usually used to hold failed asylum seekers before they are deported, is a 500 mile, eight hour bus journey from the landing sites.

There have been numerous calls to shut down the Dungavel Centre after reports of the medical and mental health of the inmates being affected by isolation amid incidents of violence and criminality.

“When I visited Dungavel on 14 October, I learnt that around 50 people who had crossed the Channel in small boats had been brought there for ’processing’”.

Kate Alexander, director of Scottish Detainee Visitors, told The Guardian:

“Staff said this was the second time it had happened in a month, but not before that.”

Alexander added: “I was profoundly shocked that the Home Office is putting people traumatised from a dangerous Channel crossing on a bus journey of over 500 miles immediately on arrival.”

A Home Office spokeperson stated: “People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – rather than making dangerous journeys to the UK. That is why we will have rules in place to make asylum claims inadmissible where people have travelled through or have a connection to safe countries.”

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Migrants stranded in France don’t know where to turn as they plan for Channel crossing

Migrants determined to make the crossing to the UK say they do not know where to turn, with available options either “difficult” or “dangerous”.

People in Calais hoping to one day to reach England told The Independent that those going by lorry often end up being stopped by police but the journey across the Channel by boat feels perilous – especially in the cold weather.

They continued to wait for their turn to make the crossing the day after 27 people – including three children – died when their inflatable dinghy sunk in the Channel.

“I’ve got nowhere else to go,” one man who fled Sudan years ago, said.

Life appeared to return to normal in Calais despite the tragedy the day before, as much of the day-to-day challenges of life stranded in northern France remained.

Although the atmosphere was described as “sombre”, men who had fled countries including Afghanistan and Sudan gathered to receive food and hot drinks, play football and get haircuts in the cold afternoon.

They told The Independent of their plans to reach England, where they wanted to work, study and get married – despite the difficult journey that entailed.

“By boat is dangerous, by car is difficult,” the man from Sudan said.

The recent tragedy – which saw 17 men, seven women and three children drown while trying to reach the UK – has sparked calls for the government to review its approach to crossings.

Priti Patel, the UK’s home secretary, told parliament on Thursday she had “not ruled anything out” in terms of “toughness” as part of efforts to stem the growing flow of people crossing the Channel in small boats.

Boris Johnson also rejected pleas to provide safe routes for refugees hoping to reach the UK from continental Europe.

Migrants in Calais told The Independent they had to decide whether to travel to the UK by lorry or by boat – with each journey having its own risks.

One young man, who had fled from Afghanistan, told The Independent he felt that hiding in a lorry was the best way to make the attempt, but “this was difficult because of police”.

But, speaking about going by boat instead, he said: “How is this good? Are you watching this?”

Another man who had been in Calais for several months told The Independent it was “too difficult” to go by boat now, as it was too cold.

The 40-year-old from Sudan said he was now going to take a chance on travelling by car.

He hoped that finally making it to England would be the end of his seven-year attempt to find a home in Europe, which saw him live in Sweden and Germany; both countries rejected his asylum claims.

Matthew Cowling, an aid worker in Calais, said the situation was “very difficult for refugees, with police carrying out evictions where people have set up camp daily.

“The weather in Calais is difficult, it is getting very cold at night and there are hundreds of men sleeping rough,” he added.

He said the atmosphere was “sombre” on Thursday, after the tragedy.

Two men – one from Iraq and one from Somalia – were found with hypothermia from the shipwreck and were its sole survivors, France’s interior minister said on Thursday.

Gerald Darmanin told French media five suspected people smugglers have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Locals gathered to light candles at a monument overlooking the water in the northern French city.

“Everyone is completely shocked by what happened,” Jean Sunan told The Independent at the Dunkirk vigil, where candles were lit at a monument overlooking the water.

“There have been deaths before, but 30-odd, that’s the first time that has happened.”

On the other side of the Channel, aid workers said they were concerned another tragedy could be on the horizon without any changes.

Migrants wrapped up warm in Dover after making the crossing the day after the deadly shipwreck.

Meanwhile, migrants in Calais continued to speak of their hopes for life in the UK.

The 40-year-old from Sudan told The Independent he wanted to work as a chef in a restaurant and get married, while a young man from the same country said he wanted to study English.

Another, who said it was too dangerous to remain in Dakar, said he wanted to come to England for education. “Everything is good in England,” he added.

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Journalist prompts backlash for suggesting those who cross the Channel come for ‘jobs’ and ‘benefits’

A journalist has been criticised after he claimed those coming into the UK in small boats via the English Channel were “coming with just expectation” of receiving a job and benefits.


In a debate on Good Morning BritainThe Times’ political sketch writer Quentin Letts sparked controversy after he made the claim, suggesting Britain was “regarded as a soft touch” in terms of its immigration enforcement.

After it was suggested by presenter Ben Shephard people enter the UK “with just cause”, Letts replied: “They’re coming with just expectation.

“They’re coming here thinking ‘I can get a job, I can get some benefits’”.

Then, after another guest – the Observer’s Sonia Sodha – said making Britain more hostile to asylum seekers would not help the situation, he added “that would help”.

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Black AIG trainee will get payout after victim of ‘unconscious bias’

A black finance worker has sued City giant AIG after her boss dismissed her complaint she was the victim of ‘unconscious bias’, saying it did not exist in her team.

Investment apprentice Julie Nyeko told senior manager Brenda Monaghan she was worried she was being unfairly treated due to her race. She insisted colleagues needed training to identify prejudices they might not be aware of.

Ms Monaghan, a managing director at the international finance firm, was monitoring the trainee due to perceived issues with her attendance record and work ethic.

The senior executive dismissed her claim when it was raised at a meeting to discuss the 23-year-old’s work, an employment tribunal heard.

Ms Monaghan ‘shut down’ Miss Nyeko and ‘effectively told her race discrimination doesn’t exist’ on her team, saying it had ‘a number of women’ and ‘one Indian’.

Miss Nyeko was later sacked for gross misconduct over her absences, failing to do work required and claiming for pay on days she had not worked.

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Pressure mounts on Britain to grant citizenship to descendants of deported Chagos Islanders

Pressure is growing on the British government to reverse a “historic injustice” and grant citizenship to the descendants of a group forcibly deported from their home islands to make way for a US military base in the 1970s.

The UK deported around 2,000 people from the Chagos Islands for the construction of the Diego Garcia base between 1967 and 1973. In return, the Chagossians were granted citizenship; but a loophole means many of their children and grandchildren were not.

This has left hundreds of second and third generation Chagossians in limbo, living undocumented in the UK or in Mauritius and the Seychelles, separated from their close family.

Now, a bill aiming to right this wrong is progressing through parliament. Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, home to the largest Chagossian community in the UK, has tabled an amendment that proposes that citizenship be offered to all Chagossian descendants. 

“The grandchildren of people who were British subjects, in the British Indian Ocean Territory, now find themselves with, in effect, no rights to British citizenship, despite the fact that it was no fault of their own that their grandparents and relatives were forcibly exiled from their home territory,” said Mr Smith.

“This injustice has existed for more than half a century…  I hope that the Government can work with me to remedy this historical injustice once and for all.” 

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Pressure mounts on Britain to grant citizenship to descendants of deported Chagos Islanders

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Pressure is growing on the British government to reverse a “historic injustice” and grant citizenship to the descendants of a group forcibly deported from their home islands to make way for a US military base in the 1970s.Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean leased from Britain in 1966 - REUTERS © REUTERS Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean leased from Britain in 1966 – REUTERS

The UK deported around 2,000 people from the Chagos Islands for the construction of the Diego Garcia base between 1967 and 1973. In return, the Chagossians were granted citizenship; but a loophole means many of their children and grandchildren were not.

This has left hundreds of second and third generation Chagossians in limbo, living undocumented in the UK or in Mauritius and the Seychelles, separated from their close family.

Now, a bill aiming to right this wrong is progressing through parliament. Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, home to the largest Chagossian community in the UK, has tabled an amendment that proposes that citizenship be offered to all Chagossian descendants. 

“The grandchildren of people who were British subjects, in the British Indian Ocean Territory, now find themselves with, in effect, no rights to British citizenship, despite the fact that it was no fault of their own that their grandparents and relatives were forcibly exiled from their home territory,” said Mr Smith.

“This injustice has existed for more than half a century…  I hope that the Government can work with me to remedy this historical injustice once and for all.” Maryolaine Permal, 60, says that borrowing money to pay for her sons failed visa applications has left her so destitute that she can only afford to eat one meal a day - David McHugh/Brighton Pictures© Provided by The Telegraph Maryolaine Permal, 60, says that borrowing money to pay for her sons failed visa applications has left her so destitute that she can only afford to eat one meal a day – David McHugh/Brighton Pictures

Much of the 3,300-strong British Chagossian community is considered ‘voluntarily homeless’ with several families sharing one home. Their finances have been crippled by the cost of applying for British citizenship with just one application costing thousands of pounds in legal fees and paperwork. 

“I want to study and help my parents but I can’t do that because I don’t have the paperwork and my applications have been rejected,” said Jovaniel, who moved to Manchester from Mauritius with his father, a second generation Chagossian who has a British passport. 

His younger brother’s application for citizenship was successful, but not his.

“I feel very depressed,” he says. 

Chagossians who have lived in the UK with their British parents since childhood have become ineligible to work, study or claim benefits since turning 18.

The detention and deportation of third generation Chagossians to Mauritius is ongoing, while “many more” have returned to Port Louis voluntarily after facing pressure from the British Home Office to leave.

A Freedom of Information Act request from The Telegraph found that 215 people had been deported from the United Kingdom to Mauritius between 2014 and 2018. The Home Office did not provide a breakdown on numbers of Chagossians deported within this figure.

Only second generation Chagossians born between the years of 1969 and 1983 are eligible for British citizenship, meaning siblings born a year apart are forced to live thousands of miles apart. 

Spouses of Chagossians with British passports are also being refused citizenship. Maria, 58, a Mauritian national, who has been in the UK since 2007 with her husband and four British children, was detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire for three months – an experience she described as “hell”.

“Just let me die here, with my family. I am not a bad person,” said Maria, who has spent over £20,000 on four unsuccessful spousal visa applications.

Returnees to Mauritius also face destitution, a country where many have never lived in as an adult and where they say they face discrimination.

International pressure is not only growing on the UK to allow the Chagossians to return to their ancestral homeland but also to return jurisdiction of the islands to Mauritius.

In 2019, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled unanimously that the UK should end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago, calling the forced removal of Chagossians from the islands a “wrongful act”.

Mauritius has said it would be prepared to allow the US-run Diego Garcia military base to continue in the Chagos Archipelago if it regained sovereignty.

“We had houses on the Chagos Islands, our homeland. The UK took our island and destroyed our homes, our families, our culture and our lives,” said Mylene, a second generation Chagossian with a British passport, who was stranded in Gatwick Airport for eight days when she arrived in the UK.

Back in London, a three-decades long legal battle to allow the Chagossians to return to their homeland is ongoing. High-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is part of a team representing the Chagossians.

“If they don’t want to change the law and give us citizenship then we will return our passports and let us go back to the Chagos. My mother is ready, all our community is ready to go home,” said Mylene.

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Nicola Sturgeon says Glasgow climate march will be policed ‘appropriately’

Nicola Sturgeon has said she has confidence that today’s mass climate march will be policed “appropriately” after campaigners at Cop26 raised concerns about “heavy-handed” policing of protests over the first week of the summit.

Between 50,000 and 100,000 people are expected to join the Global Day for Climate Justice, with more than 200 similar events taking place around the world, and over 100 in the UK alone.

Sturgeon told reporters on Friday that Iain Livingstone, Police Scotland’s chief constable, had spoken to the force’s independent advisory group after the concerns were raised in an open letter published on Thursday evening.

The march will set off from Kelvingrove park at midday, organised in a series of campaign blocs and walk through the city to Glasgow Green for a rally with speakers including Greta Thunberg, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Vanessa Nakate and Darren McGarvey.

Asad Rehman, a spokesperson for the COP Coalition, said: “We are taking to the streets across the world this weekend to push governments from climate inaction to climate justice.

“This has been the least accessible climate summit ever – with so many people side-lined at the talks or not able to make it in the first place. Today those people are having their voices heard.”

Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable, appealed to marchers to act responsibly and warned people travelling to Glasgow to prepare for delays.

He added: “There will be an increased police presence in Glasgow and roads, public transport and the streets will be significantly busier than would normally be expected in the city on a Saturday.

“If you’re going to a march, please act responsibly, be respectful in your actions and follow the route and instructions given to you by event organisers or police officers.”

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Two people smugglers jailed for charging migrants £12,000 to get to UK

Two people smugglers, including a young pilot from Birmingham, have been jailed after they brought migrants to the UK on light aircraft and in vans fitted with hidden compartments. 

Sangar Khalid Mohammed, 32, and Billy Hems, 24, both admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, with Mohammed also admitting drugs supply. 

They were jailed for seven and a half years, and two and a half years respectively, on Friday at Worcester Crown Court. 

Mohammed ran a hand car wash near Herefordshire beauty spot Symonds Yat but police officers discovered it was actually a front for a major people smuggling operation. 

Behind the scenes, Mohammed was charging desperate people a small fortune – £12,000 per person – to bring them from France.

Meanwhile, Light aircraft pilot Hems, from Rye Croft in Hollywood, was recruited to drop migrants at rural UK airfields on under-the-radar dawn flights and sneak them into the country in secret ‘hides’ on board vans. 

Judge Jackson told the pair: ‘Both of you were involved in a conspiracy to bring immigrants illegally in to this country. It involved two successful migrations, one by plane driven by Mr Hems and another in a van. 

‘This was a conspiracy to bring migrants in by a variety of different methods of transport – by plane, by vehicle, by boat.’ 

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Millions of Undocumented Immigrants Could Be Given Path to Work Under Biden’s New Bill

Democrats added a new provision to President Joe Biden‘s $1.75 trillion social safety net plan that could open a path to legal work for the roughly 7 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Under the new policy, undocumented immigrants would receive permission to apply for work and travel permits for five years, the Associated Press reported. The rule would also allow the federal government to admit additional people into the country through unused work visas.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled twice already that Democrats could not put immigration measures into the bill that would be passed through the reconciliation process. But with pressure over the Biden administration’s handling of the border mounting, many Democrats feel reforms are needed.

“We have to have something for our immigrants,” said Representative Judy Chu, a California Democrat and a member of the Progressive Caucus, according to the AP.

Because the new proposals build off existing immigration programs, Democrats hope the Senate parliamentarian will approve of the new measures in the coming days. The president appeared hopeful that this version of immigration reform will pass, setting aside $100 billion for the program which could take the cost of the bill from $1.75 trillion to $1.85 trillion.

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Manslaughter investigation opened after migrant dies while attempting to cross the English Channel

A manslaughter investigation has been opened after a migrant died trying to cross the channel, a French prosecutor has said.

One migrant in his 30s was pulled from the water unconscious and was later pronounced dead when rescuers returned to shore, it has been reported. Another migrant is thought to be missing after the incident on Wednesday.

French officials confirmed that the rescue mission took place after a small boat capsized off the coast of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk prosecutor Sebastien Pive said on Thursday that the overcrowded vessel had “around 40 people on board” and many did not have life jackets.

Mr Pive said that an investigation had been opened “for manslaughter” and that the French border police were investigating. “The man died when a small boat which could well have been damaged sank,” Mr Pive said.

“The dead person was an adult male in his 30s who was still alive when rescuers brought him back to France.

“The rescuers did their best, but he was declared dead when the rescue boat arrived back at the dock”.

Several ships from the French navy, coast guard and customs authorities were involved in the operation.

Mr Pive added that officials would be looking for those who had organised Wednesday’s crossing.

These trips are often organised by people smuggles who charge thousands of pounds to try and get migrants to the UK.

Some 292 people were recovered from the sea during the night of Monday to Tuesday, according to the authorities.

Mr Pive said that the large numbers of people trying to make the crossing this week had been driven by “relatively mild weather conditions”.

This is the second death in a week of someone attempting to cross the channel. Three migrants were reported to have drowned after falling overboard near the coast of Harwich, Essex last week.

News of the tragedy comes as new figures compiled by the PA news agency show that more than 20,000 people attempted to cross the channel this year.

Some 19,756 people succeeded in reaching UK shores in small boats since the start of the year, according to this data. That is more than double the total for 2020.

On Tuesday more than a dozen migrants were filmed sitting on a sinking dinghy in the channel. They had to be rescued by a passing ferry.

The captain of the ship apologised to passengers on the route, saying: “We had to stop and rescue 13 migrants in distress whose boat had run out of fuel and was sinking.”

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