Migrants in Calais to be offered 1,700 cash and a free flight home
Migrants queuing up to enter Britain at Calais are to be offered over 1,700 in cash, a free flight home and retraining when they get there.
By Peter Allen in Paris and Christopher Hope
Published: 7:23PM BST 27 Jul 2009
The “Global Calais Scheme” is to be partly paid for by British taxpayers and will be offered to those sleeping rough around the French port as they try to board ferries and trains bound for England.
Under the scheme, migrants will be offered a plane ride home as well as resettlement assistance and retraining when they get there. The French government is also offering 2,000 euros (1,724) in cash.
The plan was outlined on Monday by Pierre de Bousquet, who as state Prefect for the Pas-de-Calais, is the most powerful politician in the region.
He said the cash “will smooth their passage in their home country and enable each and every one of them to realise their ambitions. Organisations are present in their country of origin who will assure they're looked after.
“We're trying to open their eyes to the illusion of their wish to go to Great Britain. The United Kingdom is not the Eldorado they believe it to be.
“The solution that we advocate is voluntary repatriation. These people are deluded by the people smugglers whose have an interest in maintaining their illusions. The procedure of voluntary repatriation is not simply to buy an airline ticket for each person.”
All genuine asylum cases would continue to be considered, Mr De Bousquet added.
The plans were attacked by the Conservatives. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Why on earth will offering people money just when they turn up in Calais stop more and more turning up?
“It will make the trafficking of people even more lucrative, and will simply be exploited by criminals.
“If we had an immigration system that was managed properly, and a border police force that stopped people getting in illegally, then Britain would stop being the soft target that it has been in the last decade.”
It also emerged that plans for British taxpayers to start paying for migrants' flights home are now back on the agenda. Last year the French pulled out of a scheme to introduce Anglo-French charter flights to repatriate illegal Afghan migrants, citing humanitarian reasons.
However this month, Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, told MPs that UK and France were “assessing the feasibility of joint return flights to fly back to their country of origin”.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We are contributing with the French to the Global Calais Project, which persuades those barred from entering Britain to go home, which will ultimately save the British taxpayer from the cost of enforcing a removal.
“We are also in discussions about carrying out joint flights with the French, but would only explore this option if it proved economically beneficial for the British taxpayer.”
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