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PA Gareth Fuller
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PA Gareth Fuller
World News

'We can make a difference': Christian charity says as record number of people cross the English Channel

by Kelly Valencia

Christians are being urged to look out for those who are "slightly slanted" in society as the English Channel records its highest ever number of migrants crossing in a single day. 

"My encouragement to us all would be to take some time to look out for people, and maybe it might not be that you've got asylum seekers, refugees near you that you can befriend and support, but it might be that there's a neighbour and if we as Christians have that kind of attitude of seeking out those who are on the margins and who, in public opinion, maybe are slightly slated, for whatever reason, then we can we can make a difference," Adam Baker, coordinator for Christian charity Refuge Roots, told Premier.

More than 430 migrants arrived to the UK coastline in various dinghies on Monday, including women and young children, some too young to walk. They are thought to have sailed from Belgium or France. 

Their arrival comes as the House of Commons is debating a bill that would toughen the asylum system for those arriving to the UK shores illegally. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill would see those who arrive knowingly illegally facing four years in prison.

The bill also includes the possibility of sending asylum seekers to a "safe third country". 

However, many campaigners argue that the bill will not solve the problem but instead will reinforce the narrative of asylum seekers being labelled as criminals. 

"They're classed as criminals because they've been smuggled, but that's been the only way to get here. It just enforces that message of people being illegal, and undeserving and that is unhelpful terminology, when we're talking about real people with real lives and who've experienced real trauma as well", Baker continued. 

Providing routes of claiming asylum that are safe and ensuring that there is sufficient capacity to fairly look at and process individual cases and claims are among the solutions that Baker thinks the government should provide instead. 

Speaking on Times Radio, immigration minister Chris Philp said Monday was the "worst day ever" for crossings and it is "vital" that action is taken while the Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make the route "unviable". 

Philp said Ms Patel is close to reaching an "enhanced agreement" with French authorities to boost co-operation and increase police patrols on French beaches.

He also pledged that the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament will "close some loopholes" and will reform the asylum system.

So far this year, at least 8,000 people have reached the UK coasts in approximately 345 boats. 

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