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The Home Secretary blamed the EU’s internal open borders for allowing millions of illegal migrants to move freely around the bloc.
She said France is “overwhelmed” by the number of people heading to its shorelines to try to make the perilous crossing to England.
Speaking to reporters in Washington DC, Ms Patel admitted for the first time the country is facing a “mass migration crisis”.
She added: “The real problem on illegal migration flows is the EU has no border protections whatsoever.”
Around 1,000 people are believed to have crossed the channel in small boats on Tuesday, taking the total so far this year to more than 24,000.
Ms Patel said the Schengen open borders agreement means illegal migrants entering the EU from places like the Sahel and Libya into Italy and Greece and they can then move without restrictions.
She blamed the European Commission for failing to come up with a plan to deal with the growing problem.
“They lead on this and member states are told that they have to work through the commission and currently there is not a single united position on how to tackle this across EU member states,” she said.
Ms Patel said around 70 percent of migrants heading to northern France come via Belgium. “That is a fact because of open borders,” she added.
Ms Patel said France is “overwhelmed” by the numbers of migrants heading to its shoreline.
She insisted the French authorities are “absolutely patrolling the beaches” as agreed under the deal struck with the UK.
“I would maintain the numbers are so significant that have they got enough resources?
“We are constantly pressing France on this, and we’re asking them to be honest with us about where the gaps are, because they can’t be everywhere and obviously, the numbers are high.”
Ms Patel warned that “France can’t do it on their own” when it comes to stopping the crossings.
“Other countries have to do much more in terms of border protections and this is the point. “Schengen is free movement, Schengen is open borders, they do not have border controls and border checks.”
“I’m emphasising the point very deliberately,” she added. “This isn’t just a UK France issue. “This is a whole of Europe problem on illegal migration and the waves that are coming into Europe, because they have a policy of open borders, and there is no single united position across EU member states.”
Ms Patel insisted “no one is more angry and frustrated about this and myself alongside the British taxpayers”.
“The sad thing is that obviously for the British public, there’s no silver bullet, it can’t come in overnight,” she said.
She played down the use of pushbacks in the Channel, where boats are turned back to France, saying “there’s no one solution to this” and “it will not stop it”.
“The weather is difficult for deterrence at sea,” she added.
Ms Patel said she is pushing through radical reforms of the migration and asylum system in Parliament and warned Labour that opposing the proposed laws would leave them “on the side of the people smugglers”.
The Home Secretary said she was in constant and contact with her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin
“We have a very, very professional working relationship because no one country can fix this on their own,” she said.
“We have to work together. It’s not just the UK and France. It’s actually the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and actually most countries in the EU, people coming from other routes, the Balkan routes.”
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The UK agreed to give France £54 million to help cover some of the costs of patrolling its borders to curb the crossings.
Ms Patel said the UK could help support France in other ways than through handing over cash, such as use of drones for aerial surveillance.
She said: “For the first time on Monday night when I spoke to the interior minister, he agreed to do more work with us on sensors, for example, on ANPR, on technology on drones. They are actually changing their laws now.
“Their laws were such that they couldn’t allow the use of drones. They are changing their laws in their own parliament right now so that they can work with us to use drones.
“So it’s not about money. It’s actually about capability.”
The government has been talking to other countries to see if migrants can be processed in other countries to deter them from heading to France.
Ms Patel refused to be drawn on whether a deal is likely with other nations after the UK was reported to be in talks with Albania, but she said everything is “on the table” to deal with issue.
Albanian foreign affairs minister Olta Xhaçka insisted claims an agreement would be reached were “fake news”.
Downing Street said all countries had a “moral responsibility” to tackle the migrant crisis.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We think that all countries have a moral responsibility to tackle the issue of illegal migration and protect lives.
“We expect our international partners to engage with us on this and build on the existing co-operation we have, and we’ll continue to highlight the importance of having effective returns agreements to stop people making these crossings.”
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