Migrants system ‘in intensive care’

Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Britain’s immigration system is in “intensive care”, the chair of an influential parliamentary committee has warned.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said a rising backlog of missing migrants and unresolved immigration cases had pushed the immigration system into a critical condition.

In its latest report on the work of the Home Office’s immigration directorates, the Committee also hit out at the Government’s use of a single immigration target to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 – now broadly seen as unattainable – as “too blunt” and “arbitrary”.

Mr Vaz said: ” Our immigration system has left A&E and has entered intensive care.”

The Committee hits out at the Government for sitting on Mr Vine’s reports.

“It is unacceptable for the Home Office to withhold from public view reports produced by the independent c hief inspector of immigration and borders for longer than one month without providing a good reason,” the report said.

Turning to the Government’s net migration target, the committee said ministers had failed to make a d istinction between EU and non-EU migration.

Ministers have argued that the Government did not anticipate either an increase in EU immigration or a fall in emigration, but the committee said “this is not a sufficient explanation” for its failure to meet the target.

“An arbitrary target set by ministers, however well intentioned, only serves to reduce public confidence in the ability of any government to deliver a future pledge on immigration,” the report said.

” The Government also needs to be clear about which factors are and are not within its control, and about which migration flows it wishes to contain, and which it wishes to encourage.”

The committee also raised concerns about the Government’s plans to introduce exit checks at British ports.

Ministers have said there will be 100% exit checks on all passengers leaving the UK by March 31 next year.

But the group of MPs said it was concerned about “potential delays” and “risk to security” that such delays bring.

“Any queues that develop as a result will be highly visible and could have a serious negative impact on business, trade and tourism,” the report said.

Mr Vaz added: ” Successive governments have spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on the botched e-borders programme.

“Everyone who enters and leaves Britain must be counted in and out.

“Transport companies have long expressed serious doubts about meeting the Government’s timetable for exit checks.

“Failure to reach full checks within the planned timeframe will give rise to the twin perils of increased security risks and illegal migration.”

Immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said: “This Government is building an immigration system which is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants, and tough on those who flout the law.

“Our reforms have curbed abuse, clamped down on nearly 800 bogus colleges, slashed 45,000 visas from the further education route; and cut family visas by nearly a third since it came to power.

“We have made sure that our controls on benefits, healthcare and housing are among the tightest in Europe. And the Immigration Act has made life tougher for illegal immigrants by restricting their access to work, housing, benefits, healthcare, bank accounts and driving licences – and making it easier to remove those with no right to be here.

“As a result there are 50,000 fewer migrants coming to the country from outside the EU than there were in 2010.

“But it will take longer to clear up the mess we inherited. Comprehensive exit checks are a crucial part of our work to build an immigration system that works in the national interest. These checks, which will be in place by April 2015, will increase security and target migration abuse.

“We will consider the findings of this report carefully and respond formally in due course.”

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson said: “This is the final nail in the coffin of the Tories’ flagship net migration target. The committee has declared the target is in tatters and has only served to reduce public confidence in the immigration system.

“David Cameron and Theresa May must now acknowledge their failure and set out an alternative to the mess they have presided over for the last four years.

“Immigration is important to Britain, but it needs to be controlled and managed so the system is fair. The committee is right to say one of the reasons the net migration target has failed is because it treated all immigration the same.

“We have long called for the Government to have different rules for overseas students, who bring billions into our economy each year, than for low-skilled immigration, which can be exploited by dodgy employers looking to undercut local jobs and wages. Labour is the only party with plans to tackle this and prevent agencies that only recruit from abroad.

“We have also set out clear plans to introduce exit checks to help clamp down on illegal immigration, fully funded proposals to recruit an additional 1,000 border staff to ensure rules can be enforced and to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.”

Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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