Britain's immigration problem seems to run under the channel

Here in the United States we have a border security situation which is similar to many other nations around the world in that we share some continental scale land borders with our neighbors. It’s particularly problematic when it comes to the almost two thousand mile border with Mexico. (I often wonder why we don’t seem to spend as much time worrying about the more than 5,500 mile Canadian border.) But Great Britain has an entirely different situation by virtue of living on an island. They don’t share a land border with the rest of Europe… with one exception. The man made border crossing which is the Chunnel has proved to be a tempting target for illegal immigrants, and this week it darned near exploded, figuratively speaking. (CNN)

In just the past two days, 3,500 migrants have tried to cross the Channel Tunnel between France and the United Kingdom — a dangerous breach that has paralyzed traffic and resulted in at least one death, officials said.

The tunnel, also known as the Chunnel, runs 50 kilometers (31 miles) from a point near Calais, in northern France, to Folkestone, in southeastern England.

On Tuesday night, 1,500 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel, operator Eurotunnel said. It said its teams found a corpse, which French state radio said is the body of a Sudanese migrant.

And overnight Monday, 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel through the French terminal near Calais, Eurotunnel said.

As we’ve learned the hard way, our Mexican border is basically impossible to patrol with 100% efficiency. Even with a huge wall (complete with a moat and laser assisted sharks) we would be hard pressed to get to 100% simply because motivated criminals are just so clever. But England shouldn’t have those sorts of worries. It’s a set of tunnels. And they run for dozens of miles through confined spaces with cars and trucks zooming through constantly. How hard is it to stop illegal aliens from making that run? Eurotunnel claims to have “intercepted” 37,000 illegals since it opened, but they don’t seem to offer any figures as to how many people make it through.

Estimates from the Home Office put the figure currently at an estimated 350 per week, or 18K per year. But that’s not a figure representing people literally running the tunnels on foot. Aliens breaking into trucks (lorries) and sneaking in with cargo are a big problem and others attempt the incursion by sea. I’m not sure why we don’t hear more about the Brits’ woes with illegal aliens, though, and the media definitely seems to treat them differently than they do here in the US. For example, after people were trampled and somebody literally died trying to rush through the tunnel, can you imagine if a Republican over here responded with this as one of their first concerns the way David Cameron did?

“I have every sympathy with holiday makers who are finding access to Calais difficult because of the disturbances there,” he said Wednesday. “We will do everything that we can to work with the French and bring these things to a conclusion.”

In reality, Cameron is taking a fairly no-nonsense approach and being concerned with his legal citizens first. But if you tried that in the United States the media would be hanging your skin on a shed the very next day.

Exit questions: Do the Brits take border security more seriously than us or are we generally just ignoring their issues? And is 350 a week really that out of control compared to our situation?

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