They come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam . . . Often, they have been wandering for years, following a haphazard itinerary which has taken them to many countries, sometimes crossing them briefly, sometimes staying somewhere for a long period, sometimes returning to the same place more than once.1 They have no recognized right to move within the European Union, for our immigration regime gives nation-states the privilege to decide who has a right to be there and who has not, and the relevant authorities have not granted them authorization to be there. They are thus ‘irregular’ in the sense that they either do not have a visa or are ‘undocumented’ (without identity papers), and travel ‘illegally’.2 They imagine the United Kingdom to be an Eldorado, thinking that if only they could get there they would find some stability and be able to work, start earning some money and begin paying back the debts they have incurred in the course of their journey. They imagine they will even make some savings which will allow them and their relatives to build themselves a more decent future. They are

1 See, e.g. itineraries recounted in K Akoka and O Clochard (eds), ‘La loi des “jungles”. La situation des exilés sur le littoral de la Manche et de la Mer du Nord. Rapport de mission d’observation mai-juillet 2008’, CFDA (Coordination française pour le droit d’asile), pp 8-9, 31, 34, 37 and 46. This comprehensive, nearly 200-page-long report, based on information collected during a period of three months by 12 teams comprising two to six persons is available at https://cfda.rezo.net. The report is referred to below as CFDA, ‘Loi des “jungles”’.