Julian Robinson, Daily Mail, October 25, 2014
Illegal immigrants making desperate bids to reach Britain have turned the port of Calais into a lawless ‘jungle’, according to the French far-right leader.
Marine Le Pen seized on escalating tensions in the town by calling for the urgent reintroduction of internal border controls that have been banished across much of Europe.
The leader of the anti-immigrant National Front party made the remarks during a visit to the northern port town where riot police this week used teargas to ward off hundreds of immigrants seeking to jump on to lorries bound for Britain.
Le Pen denounced what she described as the ‘phenomenal scandal’ of a town left to its own devices in the face of a rise in the number of illegal immigrants seeking to get across the Channel
‘It’s time to wage war on this phenomenon,’ Le Pen, whose party won about 14 percent of the vote in Calais town hall elections last March.
Roughly 2,300 immigrants, many of them from Africa, are roaming the streets and sleeping in makeshift camps in and around Calais while waiting to attempt the final leg of their bid to reach Britain, according to estimates from the local prefect’s office.
The number was 1,500 just a few months ago.
Police, who had to deploy tear gas to contain hordes of immigrants on several occasions this week, kept dozens of supporters and opponents of Le Pen apart as the National Front leader arrived in the town, with some minor scuffles reported.
‘The rule of law no longer holds sway in Calais. Now it’s no more than a jungle where violence and the survival of the fittest reign,’ said Le Pen.
The port has long been a magnet for illegal migrants trying to reach Britain, where they believe they are more likely to find work.
Britain is not one of the 26 European states who have abolished internal borders under the Schengen agreement.
In September, the French and British governments announced that the Calais port layout would be changed to make it easier to carry out controls and improve traffic flow, with barriers put up along the bypass leading to the port area.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also promised a day-centre will be opened to cater to the hundreds of illegal immigrants who roam the streets and live in squats or makeshift camps.
Denis Robin, prefect in the Pas-de-Calais region, said the centre should be open in November but that the authorities were determined to ensure it would not become a massive residential camp of the kind that was run by the Red Cross–the Sangatte camp–before ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered it shut in 2002 at Britain’s request.