Britain returned only one asylum seeker per week to France last year – despite thousands crossing the Channel.
Official figures show only 53 were returned during 2019 after being caught sneaking into the UK via Calais.
The Mail may also disclose for the first time that France is limiting the number of migrants who can be returned at one time, hampering the Home Office’s efforts to enforce returns.
Under EU rules known as the Dublin Regulation, migrants are expected to seek asylum in the first member state in which they set foot.
Those who do not can be sent back if they subsequently travel to another EU country.
A group of people considered to be migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, by border forces officers on August 27
But the latest statistics show the regulations are “practically unnecessary” amid growing anger the UK is being “taken for a ride” by other members of the bloc.
Pressure on the government to shore up our porous borders and toughen our asylum rules is mounting after 7,000 migrants made the perilous journey from northern France to Britain in fragile dinghies in just two years.
Tory MPs and controlled migration activists said the inability to deport illegal immigrants meant the UK had become a ‘soft touch’.
Only 53 refugees were returned to France in 2019, according to an analysis of Home Office data by the Mail. This was out of a total of 495 migrant transfer requests.
However, we agreed to take 90 refugees out of 461 requests made by France.
The figures also show that a similar problem extends to all EU countries.
In the past five years, only 1,658 asylum seekers have been accepted by EU member states from Britain under Dublin rules – less than one a day.
This represented only 7% of the 22,211 requests made on the grounds that they had arrived elsewhere in Europe.
Border Force officers aboard the HMC Hunter speak to a group of people believed to be migrants after being arrested while crossing the English Channel
Yet in contrast, over the same period, the UK accepted 3,079 asylum seekers from other countries under the same rules – a third of all claims submitted.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the Migrationwatch think tank, which campaigns for tighter borders, said the UK had benefited little from the deal.
He said: “The Dublin regulations have always worked against us. We play by the rules, others flout them.
“The sooner it ends, the better.
“The system has been identified and exploited to the end both by those who want to live in the UK and by the criminals who run the horrific human trafficking racket.
“They know very well that we return very few. Mr Mehmet added, “We are considered a soft touch.
“Our asylum laws need to be fundamentally reformed if they are to function properly, efficiently and inspire public confidence. These regulations have been particularly exploited by France, which claims not to be responsible for migrants coming from Calais to the United Kingdom.
Under the Dublin rules, member states can set a limit on the number of asylum seekers they will accept on board a single deportation flight.
France applies a limit of 20 only.
Germany and Spain also impose a cap of 20 per flight under the same rules.
Tim Loughton, Conservative MP and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “Despite their protests, the French are not doing their part to tackle this problem.
“It’s clear they used every flaw in the book. He added: “Under the Dublin regulation, countries must take back migrants who have passed through their territory.
“Frankly, France seems to be playing by different rules. Ministers are increasingly furious at Paris’ inaction and Home Office sources last night condemned the Dublin Protocol as “inflexible and rigid”.
Interior Minister Priti Patel, who has promised to “practically eliminate” the problem by spring, demanded French cooperation in a new joint operation that will bring migrant boats back to France.
She says that making it unnecessary for people to pay human traffickers for transit to Britain would lead the criminal gangs to bankruptcy.
That would mean hundreds of migrants would no longer live in makeshift camps in Calais – solving a problem for France.
Last week, a 28-year-old Sudanese migrant drowned while trying to reach Britain in a stolen 3-foot dinghy – underlining the human cost of the crisis.
Tory Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: “The Dublin deal is not working in Britain’s best interests.
“Again, this highlights why asylum and human rights laws urgently need to be reformed with a new return agreement.
“Speedy returns are essential in deterring people from paying traffickers to enter Britain via the small boat crossing – we need to be able to remove overstayed people and them. illegal entrants – no ifs and buts. ” Ends
Migrant men taken in by British border forces arrive at the port of Dover on August 20
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: ‘Government efforts to facilitate fully legitimate and legal returns of people who have entered the UK on illegal routes are too often thwarted by strict regulations on EU return and last minute challenges submitted hours before a scheduled flight.
“These requests are very often without merit and entirely without merit, but are fully considered legally, resulting in the postponement of the referral.
“This can actually cause a return to expire due to strict Dublin regulations.
“Even when return is possible, most EU countries have a cap on the number of people they are willing to take per flight – which we are trying to change. “