Nearly 30,000 migrants crossed the Channel illegally in 2023, British government welcomes sharp drop

The figure is being closely monitored in the United Kingdom where successive Conservative governments have promised to “take back control of the borders” after Brexit

Nearly 30,000 migrants crossed the Channel illegally in 2023, British government welcomes sharp drop

The figure is being closely monitored in the United Kingdom where successive Conservative governments have promised to “take back control of the borders” after Brexit. In 2023, 29,437 migrants reached the English coast illegally by crossing the Channel, according to the results of the British Interior Ministry published Monday January 1, a drop of 35% compared to 2022 and its 45,774 illegal entrants, which had constituted a summit.

“As illegal entries into Europe increase, the number of people coming to the UK illegally is falling. This is a significant success,” said Interior Minister James Cleverly in a press release. The 2023 toll, however, remains the second highest ever recorded, higher than that of 2021 (28,526).

Immigration is shaping up to be a key issue in the campaign for the general elections scheduled for this year in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has also promised to “stop the boats” of illegal migrants.

Fall in the number of Albanian migrants

Around 20% of migrants who arrived on English shores in 2023 are from Afghanistan, according to data up to November 29. Next come Iranians (12%), then Turks (11%), Eritreans (9%) and Iraqis (9%). On the other hand, the number of Albanians – they were among the most numerous to make the crossing in 2022 (12,658) – fell by more than 90%. London and Tirana have reached an agreement to prevent Albanians from leaving illegally for the United Kingdom.

The British government has several times welcomed the success of this agreement, as well as that concluded with France. In March, London and Paris reached an agreement providing for the UK to contribute more than €500 million over three years to strengthen surveillance on French beaches and combat smuggling gangs.

In 2023, more than 24,000 illegal immigrants, including 5,500 Albanians, were expelled according to the Ministry of the Interior. “The government's commitment” to reduce the backlog of asylum applications has been met,” he says, with 112,000 files processed in 2023. Around 67% of asylum applications received a positive response. .

Turn of the screw on legal immigration

The British conservative government, which has adopted extremely restrictive asylum laws, still plans to deport migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda. The project was blocked by the Supreme Court, but London reached a new agreement with Kigali. The new bill “is the toughest legislation ever presented to Parliament on immigration,” Rishi Sunak told MPs in December 2023.

The government also announced at the end of 2023 a tightening of the screws to reduce legal immigration. Immigration hit a record in 2022, with 745,000 more people in the UK. London has promised to reduce this figure by 300,000 people in the coming years.

Among the announcements is the end, with exceptions, of family reunification for foreign students. This measure, which came into force on Monday, “will allow a rapid reduction in immigration with tens of thousands fewer people,” says the Minister of the Interior.