Under laws published today, the Border Force will have new powers to seize people smugglers at sea and send migrants back to France.
Home Secretary Priti Patel will bring forward a Nationality and Borders Bill which will hand a range of new powers to the Border Force to tackle the growing Channel migrant crisis.
The bill will give the legal powers needed for Border Force agents to intercept migrant boats crossing the Channel and redirect the vessels and individuals on board back to France. But they will require permission from the French authorities to do so. Agents will also be allowed to board vessels and detain people smugglers and migrants at sea.
Because of the perilous nature of the 21-mile journey across the Channel, the Border Force will be able to intercept the vast majority of crossings. At the moment they are not allowed to detain people smugglers at sea even if they are in danger or are putting others in danger. So every day Border Force cutters are seen escorting small boats into Dover and other ports on the southeast coast.
The Refugee Council said that “inadmissibility” rules to bar asylum seekers who arrive illegally would leave 9,000 genuine refugees shut out of the UK. Critics also warned that plans in the bill to create a new offence to lock up asylum seekers arriving illegally, could add thousands of people to Britain’s overcrowded prison system.
The new bill will also create new legal powers for the Border Force to search unaccompanied containers at ports if they suspect illegal migrants are being hidden in them.