British and French media outlets have been reporting on a strike by French workers at the Calais ferry crossing giving access to Britain. The ferry is often used by cargo trucks ("lorries") and other commercial vehicles. Striking workers broke into the secure area surrounding the ferry access points, shutting down the operation in its entirety and causing French authorities to react by sending in riot police.
The combination of these two events caused a slowdown of vehicle traffic as drivers diverted routes to instead use the Channel Tunnel (coined the "Chunnel" by Brits) connecting Calais to England. As the lorries queued up to enter the secure area for the tunnel crossing — and while many of the police were distracted — an unknown number of migrants seized the moment and boarded the trucks headed for the English side. Apparently thousands of migrants have been living in and around Calais waiting for a chance to sneak into Britain by means of whatever sort of Chunnel traffic they can access. In response, the Chunnel also has been shut down.
According to one BBC report, "Helicopter footage showed large groups gathered by the side of the road, some chasing and boarding a moving lorry from behind. Other migrants were seen talking openly with drivers."
It seems that the migrants weren't the only ones looking for the main chance: Clearly at least some of the drivers were grabbing the opportunity to engage in a little bit of free market capitalism to smuggle the intended border crossers for the right fee.
The French response? The deputy mayor of Calais is quoted as saying that the UK government had to take more responsibility for the situation and that local authorities had effectively been left in the position of policing the UK's border. True. It would also be true that British immigration and customs officers are effectively doing the same thing for France on their side of the border.
This small outbreak of chaos in a bubble brings echoes of the discord that has arisen recently over the European Union's ineffectual response to the massive migration going on in the Mediterranean. Member states have declined to accept the notion of quotas in apportioning to them their "fair share" of the migrants who have been, and continue to be, landed by the thousands on the European continent.
Between uncontrolled illegal migration into Europe, which has been left unchecked, and the dizzying tailspin of some of the EU's economies — most notably Greece, which along with Italy and Malta has been a prime recipient of the smuggled Mediterranean migrants who then move along to places like Calais — one wonders whether there is a long-term future for the EU at all.
There is a lesson in there for the United States regarding both our domestic immigration policies, which are just about as out-of-control as those in Europe, and in terms of our international agreements with other nations, agreements such as the "fast track" trade deal being considered in Congress that can inadvertently lead to an even larger flood of foreign arrivals.
Is anyone in the executive or legislative branch (with the exception of a few stalwarts in the House and Senate, bless them) not asleep at the switch?