immigration has hit the headlines here recently with record numbers of asylum seekers flooding in and the goverment acting very slowly to do anything.
but recently blair has proposed the following measures to speed up asylum applications and the repatriation of failed applicants.
sourceFINAL PHASE OF ASYLUM REFORM WILL BUILD ON PROGRESS IN HALVING CLAIMS
Reference: 326/2003 - Date: 27 Nov 2003 12:49
New measures to drive forward the fight against the organised criminals behind the abuse of the immigration and asylum system were announced today by Home Secretary David Blunkett and the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs Lord Falconer.
The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Bill aims to introduce speed and finality to the appeals and removals process and ensure traffickers and asylum claimants do not benefit from dishonesty or by attempting to mislead the authorities. The Bill is the remaining phase of the Government’s reforms to the immigration and asylum system, building on the substantial progress made as a result of the 2002 and 1999 Acts.
New figures published today show the Government has delivered on its commitment to halve the number of asylum applications by September with numbers consistently far below the levels of last year. The statistics show that the number of applications has halved since October last year, the number of cases awaiting an initial decision is the lowest for a decade, 80 per cent of initial decisions in new cases are being made within two months and record numbers of failed asylum seekers are now being removed at an average of 1,500 a month.
Key measures in the Bill would:
* Help tackle organised immigration criminals: introducing a new offence of trafficking for purposes other than sexual exploitation - such as domestic slavery – with a penalty of up to 14 years in jail.
* Ensure claimants do not gain from dishonesty: introducing new criminal sanctions to deter traffickers from telling asylum seekers to deliberately destroy their travel documents in order to lodge false claims or frustrate removal.
* Introduce a new speed and finality to the appeals and removals process: by introducing a single tier of appeal, restricting access to judicial review, and eliminating judicial review against removal directions and encouraging more families to return voluntarily by ending their unlimited right to support when the legal process has been exhausted and when they are able to take up a voluntary, paid route home.
Alongside the new Bill, the Department for Constitutional Affairs also announced plans to restrict access to legal aid. The Government will introduce a new limit of seven hours on work for an initial asylum application in March, with a further reduction to a five hour limit from May next year. Beyond that, appeals will only be funded by legal aid if they are judged in advance to have merit by the Legal Services Commission.
Home Secretary, David Blunkett, said:
"Substantial progress has been made in tackling abuse of the asylum system. The figures out today show that we have successfully reduced the number of asylum applications by half since last October with the numbers now consistently far below the levels of last year. Importantly we are also continuing to remove record numbers of failed asylum seekers and have dramatically speeded up the system with 80 per cent of new decisions made within two months.
"The Bill we are publishing today will build on this by tackling the remaining parts of the system in need of reform. We must be resolute in dealing with the organised criminals making millions from exploiting the system. The message we are sending is simple.
"Firstly, we are stepping up our intelligence-led operations against the organised gangs - trebling funding, putting 24 facilitators behind bars and disrupting 20 gangs in the last six months. New measures in the Bill would introduce a new offence of trafficking for labour exploitation including domestic slavery with new powers for Immigration Officers to arrest people for immigration-related crimes such as bigamy.
"Secondly, that those claiming to be escaping death and torture must be honest with us. Those who cannot explain how they got here without travel documents should not expect to benefit from our protection and will face criminal prosecution if they deliberately seek to mislead the authorities by getting rid of their documents.
"Third, we are introducing a new speed and decisiveness to appeals and removals. A fair and effective system means that those whose asylum claims fail must go home. New proposals will significantly reduce the scope for claimants to string out the appeals system solely to delay removal at the expense of the taxpayer – with limits on legal aid and a new single tier of appeal. A clampdown on unregulated advisers will put a stop to those whose only advice is how to exploit the system.
"The Bill would also introduce a new power to remove support from families who are able but unwilling to leave the UK, when they have exhausted all legal right to remain here and are refusing the offer of a voluntary, paid return home. It is designed to encourage families to return voluntarily before their removal is enforced.
he measures published today are part of the Government’s balanced approach of clamping down on abuse of the system and illegal working while making the system work better for genuine refugees and encouraging the legal, managed migration which can make an enormous contribution to our economy and society."
Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer, said:
"We need an asylum system that is fair and balanced both to the applicant and to the taxpayer. These reforms strike that balance.
"A system that is cumbersome and time-consuming suits no-one. It creates uncertainty in the minds of applicants and leaves the taxpayer facing a growing bill.
"The current appeals system, with access to judicial review and other routes to the higher courts, creates an incentive for people to try and delay proceedings for as long as possible. The longer they can avoid a final appeal decision, the better they believe their chances of staying in the UK.
"By introducing the single tier tribunal with one appeal, and no access to the higher courts apart from very limited circumstances, we will take a huge step towards stopping failed asylum seekers who have no chance of success from using the appeals system to delay the inevitable."
The measures in the Bill include:
Sanctions for those who destroy or discard their documents and tougher assessments of claimants' credibility
* It will be more difficult for someone’s asylum claim to succeed if they have no travel documents without good explanation or have travelled through a safe third country.
* New criminal offences, with a maximum penalty of two years, of failure to provide a good explanation for being without travel documentation and failure to co-operate with re-documentation.
Ending support for families able, but unwilling, to return home
* Families whose applications for asylum have failed will no longer be supported if they are able to travel but fail to take up the offer of a voluntary, paid route home with assistance to help them reintegrate. Support can already be withdrawn from families who fail to turn up for a flight once enforced removal arrangements have been made. This is designed to encourage more families to return home voluntarily with assistance to help them reintegrate.
Increasing enforcement powers
* Increasing the effectiveness of the specialist Immigration Service units that focus on immigration-related crime by extending their powers of arrest, entry, search and seizure to include offence such as bigamy, forgery and counterfeiting.
* Introducing a new offence of human trafficking for non-sexual exploitation with a maximum penalty of 14 years (the Sexual Offences Act, which received Royal Assent last week, includes offences covering trafficking for sexual exploitation).
A single tier of appeal
* Introduce a new single tier Asylum and Immigration Tribunal against all adverse immigration decisions including refused applications for asylum. Its decisions could be reviewed by a senior member of the Tribunal only if there was an error in law, with no further right to seek Judicial Review in the higher courts unless a Tribunal member acted in bad faith.
* The present system allows for an appeal to an adjudicator, followed by a further appeal with permission to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. Ninety seven per cent of decisions by the adjudicator are upheld.
No in-country right of appeal
* At present certain countries are designated as safe under the non-suspensive appeals provisions and applicants from these countries have no in-country right of appeal if their claim is clearly unfounded. The Bill would allow this to be extended to certain groups from a country where the general level of safety is good for some groups of people but the country as a whole may not meet the test.
Enhanced powers to regulate immigration advice
* Powers for the Immigration Services Commissioner to raid the premises of illegal immigration advisers.
* Designated professional bodies, such as the Law Society will be required to comply with requests for information from the Immigration Services Commissioner.
* A new criminal offence of advertising or offering immigration advice when unqualified.
Enabling removal to safe third countries
* Designating some countries as safe for non-nationals for both asylum and human rights purposes to speed up the process of removal, and reduce the scope for legal challenge, where a safe third country is responsible for considering an asylum claim. The new provision would allow faster removal to safe third countries, including EU partners.
Electronic monitoring of those subject to immigration control
* An enabling power to introduce tagging or tracking to maintain better contact with those subject to immigration control, including asylum seekers, and offer an alternative to detention for those who cannot offer suitable sureties.
* Electronic monitoring will allow the release on bail and temporary admission/ temporary release of those at the lower end of the risk spectrum who would otherwise have been detained.
* Voice recognition technology could allow reporting by telephone rather than in person for low risk cases.
Charging for non-asylum immigration applications
* Introducing a power to allow us to charge for non-asylum immigration applications over and above the cost of processing the application to raise income from a group of people who gain major benefits from entry to the UK. More than 500,000 non-asylum applications are expected to be made this year from people who enter the UK to work, study or join family members.
The Government set out its proposals for new legislative measures on 27 October and wrote to around 180 key stakeholders as part of the consultation process.
Notes to Editors.
1. As immigration is a reserved matter, all measures in the Bill will apply throughout the United Kingdom, with the exception of the new offence on trafficking which would not apply directly in Scotland.
2. The Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs announced plans for further legislative proposals on October 27, (Home Office press notice 296/2003).
3. The asylum statistics for the third quarter 2003 were published today (Home Office press notice 325/2003).
4. The Bill was announced in the Queens’ Speech on Wednesday November 26.
5. The Government is still considering introducing a requirement on carriers to take copies of passengers’ identity documents before they travel on selected and targeted routes where there is known to be a problem with undocumented passengers arriving in the UK
this does seem like a step in the right direction since failed applicants will no longer recieve any benefits and cant spend years wasting taxpayers money trying to appeal when they know they will never win.
then again the introduction of the new eu constitution will mean we must take a certain number of asylum seekers anyway. a new bill which britain is being expected to sign up for but has not even been drafted will also remove are powers for the protection of our boders.
does anyone else believe that a body of unelected foreigners should not be allowed to pass laws in our countries.
time for your love affair with europe to end mr blair and final stick up for us for once and tell these people to go fuck themselves
its a long one sorry