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Britain, France Pledge Secure Borders Cooperation


British and French immigration ministers pledge close cooperation on secure border controls

In a show of unity British and French immigration ministers today spoke of their joint commitment to maintaining secure border controls and tackling illegal immigration.

At a joint press conference in Paris the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Liam Byrne, reiterated his pledge to work closely with his French ally and fellow immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux in tackling illegal immigration into the UK.

During his visit Liam Byrne took the opportunity to reinforce an earlier agreement secured with Mr Hortefeux that there would be no second Sangatte.

Liam Byrne said:

"Accommodation centres are not on the agenda. This has been reiterated on numerous occasions by French ministers - this has not changed. There must be no second Sangatte and I'm pleased to hear the French Government shares that determination.

"We believe in taking a united approach to the challenges and the benefits posed by immigration but its impacts are international and need international solutions.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the French for their help in tackling illegal immigration into the UK. The success of British immigration controls on French soil is clear - we have seen an 88 per cent reduction in the number of illegal immigrants arriving in the UK since 2002.

"Asylum applications in Britain are at their lowest level since 1993 and last year we removed more failed asylum seekers from the UK than ever before."

Policing around Calais and other Channel ports such as Cherbourg has been dramatically increased since 2002 allowing detection of illegal immigrants before they can reach the UK. In 2006 the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) stopped 17,000 illegal immigrants from crossing to the UK illegally.

In addition to tough controls across the Channel, the UK has introduced the use of fingerprint technology to more than 100 countries, checking people when they apply for a visa to come to the UK.

These checks have resulted in more than 7,000 people being matched in connection with previous immigration matters. Meanwhile, British Airline Liaison Officers based around the globe have prevented 180,000 people from boarding aircrafts to the UK in the past five years.

Note:

1. The UK's Borders and Visa strategy can be found on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Client ref 176/07
GNN ref 153850P

ENDS

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