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Friday, May 19, 2006 

Express-watch: Britain's our next stop!

With immigration not being out of the news over the last few days, what with the civil servant giving evidence to the Home Affairs committee saying he "hadn't got the faintest idea" how many illegal immigrants were in the country, the foreign prisoner non-deportation scandal rumbling on and with five illegal immigrants turning up for work at the Home Office (although they were cleaners, employed by a contractor and were found out when security checked them over, although Channel 4 News apparently got the company to admit that have actually worked for the immigration service before, and Newsnight is currently airing its own allegations.) it's not much of a surprise that the newspaper which most frequently distorts the true picture of immigration in this country is leading on it. However, even they today seem to be completely making it up.

The Express story is about the thousands of migrants which are making the perilous trip over the sea, usually from the Atlantic ports of Mauritania and Senegal to try and reach mainland Europe. Mostly, they don't make it to Spain itself, but instead to the Canary islands. Tenerife, known mainly to Brits as a holiday island, has been receiving the most, with reports that up to 150 a day have been arriving via boat.

So where does Britain come into all this? Well, it err, doesn't really. These immigrants, who have paid all the money they have either saved or managed to get hold of to traffickers who take them to the ports and then abandon them once they've been given a boat, might have the intention of coming here, but it's huge unlikely that they'd ever be able to make it, or manage to. They have no documentation when they arrive (if they arrive, reports suggest up to 1,000 people already this year have died trying to reach Spanish territory) and no money. The Spanish have reopened an ex-army barracks to house those who have so far made the journey. The Spanish have also not found a solution to the problem, although they have suggested that they will take to using satellite monitoring to prevent yet more waves of immigrants reaching the islands. Even if the immigrants managed to get another boat once they had reached Tenerife and then get to Spain itself, they are faced with the problems of having no money. Smuggling using lorries coming through the Channel no longer works - all trucks are swept by sniffer dogs, and drivers face heavy fines if any immigrants are found. This leaves the immigrants with again making the journey by sea, or perhaps being used as one-way drug mules and there have been no reports of migrants managing to make it across the busy channel via yacht.

There's no doubting that there is a serious problem with illegal immigration, both with how it is seen and how the Home Office is dealing with it (or not, which seems to be what's happening.) The problem with those entering the country though is mainly with people traffickers who charge huge sums to get them to mainland Europe or through to Britain. Those who are making the trip from Africa via boat face almost insurmountable problems in making it to Britain. So why is the Express claiming that these migrants will be coming to these shores? Well, it makes for a nice scare story, it helps bash the Blair government and in the current climate, hardly anyone is going to bother questioning it. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story, after all?

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absolutely! why let the truth get in the way. it's the same story they have been telling for years!

Well, we're all supposed to be European now, so the Spanish's problem is our problem. An' we don't want our continent swamped wiv them illegals now do we?

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