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Channel Crossings Soar

Migrants are helped by RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat before being taken to a beach in Dungeness, on the south-east coast of England, 11.24.2021, after crossing the English Channel.

The number of people crossing the Channel to the UK from northern France in small boats has hit a new high, the government in London said on Tuesday.

ome 1,295 people were detected on Monday, beating the previous single-day record of 1,185 on November 11, 2021, the Ministry of Defence said.

So far this year there have been some 22,670 crossings. At the same point in 2021, nearly 12,500 were intercepted making the journey.

Last year, the UK authorities brought ashore a total of 28,526 people as they tried to cross the busy shipping lane.

The issue has caused a major political headache for the UK government, which promised tighter border controls after leaving the European Union.

To try to address the issue, immigration laws have been tightened to target people-smuggling gangs behind the crossings.

Rights groups have said the legislation also runs the risk of criminalising migrants seeking asylum from violence and persecution in their homelands.

The UK signed a partnership deal with Rwanda earlier this year to send some migrants to the African country for resettlement.

But deportation flights have been stymied by a series of legal challenges in the UK courts and at the European Court of Human Rights.

The first flight in June was due to see some 130 asylum seekers sent to the Rwandan capital Kigali, but the numbers were whittled down to zero because of court action.

Groups representing asylum seekers are due to challenge the legality of the policy in court from next month.

The UK government has defended the policy as necessary because the costs involved in processing asylum claims and housing migrants are too high.

It is also looking at changing human rights legislation to make it easier to deport asylum seekers deemed to have entered the UK illegally.

Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, who are vying to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister after his resignation, have backed the Rwanda scheme.

With predictions some 60,000 people could cross this year, Truss said she would extend the plan.

Sunak said he would do "whatever it takes" to make it work.

But British MPs have questioned the deterrent effect of the deportation plan, saying there was "no clear evidence" it would stop crossings.

Since Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the deal with Rwanda four months ago, more than 17,400 people have crossed the Channel in small boats.

Lawmakers instead called for closer cooperation with the UK's European neighbors, including intelligence sharing, to tackle criminal gangs.

Parliament's Home Affairs committee said a total of 48,450 applications for asylum were made in 2021 -- similar to every year since 2014.

The MPs blamed the backlog of more than 125,000 cases on "antiquated IT systems, high staff turnover and too few staff."