The United Kingdom is separated from Europe by water and it is not part of the Schengen agreement that allows people to move across European borders without showing identity cards. But, there is the Chunnel that connects England to France allowing people and goods to cross under the channel. Since European countries have not come to any conclusion about how to deal with undocumented migrants from the Middle East and Africa, the migrants have had to improvise.
The French police said there were about 2,100 attempts by migrants to gain access to the tunnel on Monday, and Eurotunnel, the company that operates the 31-mile English Channel crossing, put the number for Tuesday night at about 1,500.A story yesterday on MarketPlace from American Public Media quoted one young man as saying that he wanted to get to the UK to make "fast money." This may well illustrate the kinds of claims that human traffickers make to people to get them to spend money to be transported to Europe in the hope of a better life.
Calais is certainly feeling the strain. Eurotunnel said in a statement on Wednesday that it had intercepted more than 37,000 migrants since January.
The English Channel is a focus of the broader European crisis because many migrants are trying to travel to Britain, where they believe they will find it easier to secure work. The country also appears more attractive because Britain does not operate an identity card system and because many migrants speak some English.
“What we are seeing is the result of the European Union not being able to handle the migration crisis in the way that they should,” said Camino Mortera-Martinez, a research fellow at the Center for European Reform, a research institute.
“Everyone is blaming each other for not handling the crisis properly,” she said. “The Italians and Greeks are blaming everyone else for not helping them. France is blaming Italy for giving documents to asylum seekers, without checking them properly, so they can move on.”