EU court hasn’t opened illegal migrant “floodgates”

by Jack Schickler | 08.06.2016

Today’s Sun splash dubs European judges “Checkpoint Charlies”. The paper cites a “shock” EU court ruling from yesterday that it says will “open the floodgates to illegal immigrants”. It quotes UKIP spokesman Steven Woolfe calling the judgement “insane”, and pro-Brexit justice minister Dominic Raab as saying it “threatens the integrity of our borders”.

In fact, far from looking at how the UK should police its borders or deal with illegal migrants, the court merely restated the law that applies within the passport-free Schengen zone – rules which do not apply to Britain.

The case concerns a Ghanaian woman intercepted by French police with a fake passport on a bus about to enter the Channel Tunnel. The woman had been staying in Europe illegally, but the court ruled she could not be locked up for having crossed from Belgium into France, which is also in Schengen.

The Return Directive sets out how illegal migrants can be deported from the Schengen zone.  In 2011, the court read the rules as meaning those in the process of being deported could not be imprisoned but can be detained. It was these principles that were restated yesterday.

In any case, the Directive does not apply to the UK because of our Schengen opt-out. In this case, the woman didn’t get as far as British border control – but had she done, she would have been refused entry when UK immigration officers inspected her fake identification.

Leaving the EU would have no bearing on the rules Schengen countries set themselves, though it could give us less leverage in influencing them. Far from opening floodgates, EU judges have merely confirmed the status quo.

Contacted for a response, the Sun declined to comment.

Edited by Geert Linnebank

4 Responses to “EU court hasn’t opened illegal migrant “floodgates””

  • Question : Can IMMIGRATION excesses be controlled while in the EU and WITHOUT breaching the FREE MOVEMENT of people rule of the EU? The answer is…YES!!!!! I tell you why (to put the leavers argument on immigration at rest): It can be done extending the scope of what had been done already with the GMC rules on EU doctors (and done similarly in all EU countries Medical bodies): To work in UK (or any EU country) you need certificate of adequate language proficiency. Now this can be extended simply in all levels of working environments (I guess with different language skills requirements: for non skilled, semi-skilled, skilled layers of employments prospects). The Uk can simply (without any EU regulation breaches – as already happening with GMC and similar Medical bodies in the EU) put the barrier lower or higher of language skills to allow a EU (but also non EU) worker to apply to work in UK (so no longer even discrimination between EU and non EU- potentially). Then: no possession of such certificate of language proficiency: no right to work benefit or social housing (therefore to avoid workers getting into the black market) and no rights for their children to a school place. If there is a need of workers in a specific area (layer) the language proficiency barrier can be lowered (or increased if excessive number of migrants arriving). The administraion costs of such tests to fall entirely on the potential migrant (obviously prices to reflect the background economy of the country). Therefore, yes, UK can operate controls on migration levels from within the EU (without hindering the principle of free movement) as it will be only with the barier required (and reasonable) of language skills (proficiency) adapted according to a possible one of 3 layers (non skilled, semi skilled or skilled working environments). NO requirement from the UK to ask EU permission on this (as from the requirement now added to GMC since 2013-2014).

  • “those in the process of being deported could not be imprisoned but can be detained”

    Please can you explain the difference between being imprisoned and being detained.

    • Imprisonment comes as the result of being convicted of a criminal offence and requires the serving of a sentence. The prisoner cannot leave until the sentence is over (or parole is given).
      Detainment is when someone is held in a Detainment centre (with some of the freedoms granted to ordinary subjects) until such time as they are deported or their asylum case is heard and they gain access to the country lawfully.
      Being in a Detainment centre may well feel like prison but there are definitely fewer restrictions on what detainees can do.