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PHOTO: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 25, 2019. - British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of her cabinet amid reports of an attempted coup by colleagues over her handling of Brexit. (Photo by Isabel Infantes / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pro-EU demonstrators wave an mixed EU and Union flag as they protest against Brexit, outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 11, 2018. - After a rollercoaster week of Brexit rows within her government and with Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Tuesday seek to avoid another setback in a long-awaited showdown with parliament. MPs in the House of Commons will vote on a string of amendments to a key piece of Brexit legislation that could force the government's hand in the negotiations with the European Union. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Cyclists pass a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border. - British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her anguished divorce deal with the European Union before rowdy lawmakers on Wednesday before  trying to win the backing of her splintered cabinet with the so-called "Irish backstop" arrangement to guard against the imposition of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland one of the contentious issues, according to reports. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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Cyclists pass a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border. - British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her anguished divorce deal with the European Union before rowdy lawmakers on Wednesday before trying to win the backing of her splintered cabinet with the so-called "Irish backstop" arrangement to guard against the imposition of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland one of the contentious issues, according to reports. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

Albanian migrants rescued off Britain's Kent coast

Supporters of "Brexit" use rescue in their campaign to leave EU

(CNN) —  

Eighteen Albanian migrants rescued off Britain’s southern coast over the weekend might have thought they were sailing to a new life of opportunity. Instead they have found themselves the latest political football in the debate over whether the UK should leave the European Union.

Immigration has been a hot-button issue in discussions on the so-called Brexit, a term used to describe the June 23 referendum on whether Britain will exit the EU, and reports of migrants arriving on Britain’s shores appear to have renewed calls for tighter immigration controls.

01:25 - Source: CNN
Hundreds of migrants feared dead in Mediterranean

A sea and helicopter rescue was launched off the coast of Kent to reach the migrants, who were traveling with two Britons in a dinghy, the UK Home Office said. They were taken to Dover for questioning by Border Force officers.

The two British men, Mark Stribling, 35, and Robert Stilwell, 33, have been charged under the Immigration Act of 1971 and appeared in a magistrate’s court Monday morning, the Home Office told CNN.

The rescue has raised concerns the English Channel may become the new Mediterranean Sea, which has seen the biggest movement of asylum seekers into Europe since World War II. At least 1,475 migrants have died this year making the perilous journey in the Mediterranean in crowded boats, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Three boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea within the past week, and officials fear the death toll could soar to more than 700.

03:38 - Source: CNN
Here's what you need to know about Brexit
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 25, 2019. - British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of her cabinet amid reports of an attempted coup by colleagues over her handling of Brexit. (Photo by Isabel Infantes / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 25, 2019. - British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of her cabinet amid reports of an attempted coup by colleagues over her handling of Brexit. (Photo by Isabel Infantes / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pro-EU demonstrators wave an mixed EU and Union flag as they protest against Brexit, outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 11, 2018. - After a rollercoaster week of Brexit rows within her government and with Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Tuesday seek to avoid another setback in a long-awaited showdown with parliament. MPs in the House of Commons will vote on a string of amendments to a key piece of Brexit legislation that could force the government's hand in the negotiations with the European Union. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Pro-EU demonstrators wave an mixed EU and Union flag as they protest against Brexit, outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 11, 2018. - After a rollercoaster week of Brexit rows within her government and with Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Tuesday seek to avoid another setback in a long-awaited showdown with parliament. MPs in the House of Commons will vote on a string of amendments to a key piece of Brexit legislation that could force the government's hand in the negotiations with the European Union. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pedestrians waling through Waterloo Bridge with the skyline of the City of London in the background on October 27, 2016. 
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 / AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Pedestrians waling through Waterloo Bridge with the skyline of the City of London in the background on October 27, 2016. Britain's economy won a double boost on October 27 on news of faster-than-expected growth following its vote for Brexit and a pledge by Nissan to build new car models in the UK. Gross domestic product expanded by 0.5 percent in the third quarter, official data showed. / AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Cyclists pass a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border. - British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her anguished divorce deal with the European Union before rowdy lawmakers on Wednesday before  trying to win the backing of her splintered cabinet with the so-called "Irish backstop" arrangement to guard against the imposition of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland one of the contentious issues, according to reports. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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Cyclists pass a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border. - British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her anguished divorce deal with the European Union before rowdy lawmakers on Wednesday before trying to win the backing of her splintered cabinet with the so-called "Irish backstop" arrangement to guard against the imposition of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland one of the contentious issues, according to reports. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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PHOTO: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
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A recent refugee-swap deal between the EU and Turkey has dramatically slowed the flow of boats crossing the Mediterranean, and now there’s concern migrants will make longer overland journeys to France and cross the English Channel, a busy shipping route that poses serious risks to the small dinghies used by refugees. It is unclear how such a small boat made it so close to the British coast.