Albanian migrants rescued off Britain's Kent coast
Supporters of "Brexit" use rescue in their campaign to leave EU
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
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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
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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.