I travelled to Calais to meet the Deputy Mayor of the region. We discussed how we can work together to tackle the problems of illegal immigration and refugees. And the need for Britain's borders to be kept safe and secure. British immigration controls at both Dover and Calais play a vital role in tackling the problem of illegal migration at source. I made a strong case to the Deputy Mayor that the build up of refugees at squalid camps in Calais is not acceptable.
We agreed that more needs to be done in Calais to ensure that refugees are not able to use the Port to gain illegal entry into the UK. People in Dover will remember how refugee camps at Sangatte between 1999 and 2002 acted a magnet for refugees wanting to come to Britain. I saw the same thing myself when I visited 'The Jungle' refugee camp at Calais in 2009. Refugees were living in desperate conditions in Calais and attempting to travel to the UK. The closure of the 'Jungle Camp' contributed to migration to Dover from Calais reducing by 80% in just one year.
That is why I met with the Deputy Mayor to discuss sustainable, long-term solutions to this problem. There have been worrying reports that more refugees are gathering around Calais and being exploited by people traffickers. Many of these traffickers offer a false dream of life in the UK. We need to work together to crack these international criminal gangs. We also need to work to ensure that no new refugee camps are able to spring up in Calais again, where refugees live in squalid conditions and try repeatedly to enter the UK.
We need to work to break the criminal gangs targeting refugees in Calais –they are the real villains.
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