Previously unseen figures reveal 56,132 attempts to enter the UK illegally were made as the crisis in northern France unfolded.
The “shocking” statistics show how many illegals were intercepted by Border Force but no one knows how many made it here undetected.
Most tried to slip into the UK through Calais where hundreds have returned to try their luck again this summer.
The scale of illegal immigration through northern France can be revealed after the Daily Express won a lengthy battle with the Home Office to publish the data.
It shows on average 4,317 attempts to cross the Channel illegally were made each month between January 2016 and January 2017 – equal to 139 a day or six an hour.
Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of Migration Watch UK said: “Illegal immigration has been a problem for many years and remains scandalously high.
“It is perfectly possible to deal with it, all that’s required is the political will and the necessary resources.”
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION HAS BEEN A PROBLEM FOR MANY YEARS – ALP MEHMET, MIGRATION WATCH UK
The figures relate to entry attempts at British border controls in Calais, Dunkirk, Lille, Paris, Brussels and Coquelles.
Calais and Dunkirk are among the busiest ferry terminals in the world while Lille, Paris and Brussels are major stations for the Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel.
Coquelles is the Calais terminal for the Eurotunnel service.
The figures suggest tens of thousands of migrants made a rush to the UK before the “Jungle” shanty town in Calais, where many stayed, was flattened in October.
In the three months before it was bulldozed, the numbers trying to reach the UK were at their highest.
Last July 6,967 attempts were made, in August 7,585. Border Force seized 6,579 in September.
Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover called the figures “shocking”.