May in Calais border control talks

MPs accused the UK Border Agency of creating an amnesty for asylum seekers in an immigration system which is 'not fit for purpose'

MPs accused the UK Border Agency of creating an amnesty for asylum seekers in an immigration system which is 'not fit for purpose'

First published in National News © by

Home Secretary Theresa May will hold talks with her French counterpart in Calais as she inspects the cross-Channel border controls.

Mrs May will meet French interior minister Claude Gueant as they examine the security of the port and tunnel ahead of next year's Olympic Games in London.

It will be the first time a French interior minister has visited the Calais border operations since Nicolas Sarkozy, now president, vowed to close the Red Cross's controversial Sangatte refugee camp when he visited in 2002.

The visit comes the week after MPs accused the UK Border Agency (UKBA) of creating an amnesty for asylum seekers in an immigration system which is "not fit for purpose".

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015 but figures released last week showed it hit 242,000 at the end of last year - its highest level in more than five years.

Immigration and the measures being taken to secure the UK's border will be central to the talks amid concerns that tens of thousands of migrants fleeing the turmoil in north Africa may head to Calais's ports to try to make their way to Britain.

Under the Schengen Agreement, citizens in 25 mainland European Union (EU) nations are allowed to travel across borders without having their passports checked.

But the deal is under threat as tensions have risen over the fleeing migrants after Italy handed more than 25,000 Tunisians temporary permits to travel, effectively giving them unobstructed travel around the 25 EU nations.

The UK and Ireland are not part of the agreement.

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