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UK gives £15million to France to fight illegal immigration

The measures are expected to beat methods "people smugglers" use to bypass checks

7th July 2009: Prime Minister Gordon Brown has agreed to give France £15million to help tighten its borders. But MP for Ashford-cum-shadow minister for immigration Damian Green said the British taxpayer was getting a bad deal from the government.

The Prime Minister made the offer during his summit with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Evian, France. The money will be paid for new technology to search vehicles heading for Britain. In return, President Sarkozy agreed to step up the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Ever since the Red Cross refugee centre at Sangatte closed in 2002, the would-be migrants have been camping in and around Calais. It is believed several hundred, from places including Afghanistan and Iraq, are in makeshift tents in an area outside the town; and attempt to sneak on board cross-Channel trains and ferries.

To begin with, a trial of the systems will be carried out at Calais. It will, subsequently, be extended to Boulogne, Dunkirk and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Coquelles.

The measures are expected to go a long way to beat all kinds of methods "people smugglers" use to bypass checks, including instructing migrants to place plastic bags over their heads to beat carbon dioxide tests. For the purpose of proving an illegal passage, as much as £1,000-a-head is charged.

The Ministers claimed the new British technology would make it impossible for them to evade detection. Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: “We have one of the strongest borders in the world, and today’s agreement with our French counterparts has made it even more secure.”

Mr. Green, on the other hand, asserted they were apparently paying £15million so that the French agree to enforce their own laws. "Surely they should be deporting illegal immigrants anyway;" he said, adding "Every few months, the Government makes a tough announcement about the border at Calais. Sadly this has never been followed by tough action.

“The long-term solution is the introduction of a proper border police force, using specialist skills to keep our borders safe.”

The Evian bilateral agreement follows a pledge by President Sarkozy’s Government to shut down ‘The Jungle’ – a Calais squatter camp where some 800 migrants are currently living rough as they try to get to the UK.

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