Even as the US president is inundated with a constant barrage of criticism for his efforts to halt illegal immigration, the UK is stepping up its own efforts at undoing Merkel's 2015 "open door" policies and curbing the flow of illegal migrants shuttling across Europe.
According to EFE, the French interior minister and his United Kingdom counterpart are launching a joint effort to curb the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel, the sea separating southern England and Northern France. On Friday 12 people were detained in two boats off the Dover coast: all but one, a Syrian, came from Iran. At least 220 people have attempted the 21-mile crossing in rubber dinghies and small boats. In one incident last month, a group of 17 migrants stole a fishing boat from a French port and sailed across to Dover.
As the Sunday Times notes, the number of migrants saved in the Channel by British authorities and detained since Christmas Day has reached 94, many of them Iranian and Syrian, although that figure is expected to rise with calm seas between Dover and Calais. Another group, reportedly six Iranian men, were met by Border Agency staff having been spotted by residents on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent, at about 7.30am today, according to Sky News.
Britain's interior ministry has said it is treating an uptick in the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel from France as a "major incident."
Only one of the Border Force’s fleet of five cutters — patrol boats capable of rescuing multiple vessels at once — has been deployed in the Strait of Dover to deal with the migrant crossings so far.
The operation appeared to descend into farce on Saturday afternoon as HMC Searcher sailed to Ramsgate, where it docked, leaving the world’s busiest sea route unpatrolled by a significant British vessel for at least six hours.
"Diplomatic Sunday: in connection with my British counterpart Sajid Javid, we are coordinating to strengthen our efforts to combat crossings of the channel carried out by some irregular migrants on small boats at the peril of their life," the French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, tweeted.
Dimanche diplomatique 🇫🇷 🇬🇧— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) December 30, 2018
En lien avec mon homologue britannique @SajidJavid, nous nous coordonnons pour renforcer notre action pour lutter contre les traversées de la Manche effectuées par certains migrants irréguliers sur de petites embarcations au péril de leur vie. pic.twitter.com/bDLImai5QJ
"Thank you Castaner for your partnership," Javid replied on Twitter. "UK & France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration - protecting our borders and human life," the Home Secretary added.
Sajid Javid was forced to abandon his family holiday at a luxury safari hideaway in South Africa’s Kruger National Park over a growing backlash over his handling of the migrant crisis. As the Sunday Times reported, the home secretary came under fire after he declared a “major incident” over the surge in Channel boat migrants while he was staying at one of the most luxurious safari lodges in sub- Saharan Africa.
Javid, his wife and children were staying over Christmas at Dulini, a lodge that charges £840 per person per night, and as the Times noted, "It offers guests private plunge pools and in-room massages to relax after game drives spotting leopards, lions and elephants by the water hole."
Javid addressed criticism of his slow response in a statement: “After a rise in activity over Christmas I immediately stepped this up — declaring a major incident and returning to the UK to drive our continued and enhance response. I continue to keep the number of Border Force cutters in the Channel under close review, but there is no one easy answer to this complex problem."
Javid reportedly took the decision to come home to avoid the humiliation of being told to return by Theresa May, "after initially resisting pressure to leave his holiday paradise." The embattled prime minister has been spending the weekend in her Maidenhead constituency.