The UK Government this week launched a new ‘international strategy’ aimed at preventing illegal immigration.
The Government said it is “committed to putting migration at the heart of international relationships” by working more closely than ever with foreign governments, sharing data and intelligence with enforcement agencies abroad, and ensuring that developing countries have the skills they need to thrive.
The international action plan – a joint strategy by the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office – underlines the need to take the fight against human traffickers, forgers and foreign criminals to the source, with the UK Border Agency’s work overseas more crucial than ever before.
The UK Border Agency’s said it has had the following successes:
- 67,000 inadequately documented passengers stopped from boarding planes to the UK in 2008-09;
- suspected fraudulent visa applications referred to police abroad, leading to more than 1,280 arrests across the globe as of September 2009;
- a team based at the British Embassy in China working with local authorities to speed up re-documentation – leading to 3,280 Chinese nationals being removed last year; and
- more than 125 drug couriers arrested in Ghana and Jamaica in the past year as part of Operations Airbridge and Westbridge, which see frontline officers working with overseas authorities to stop drug couriers before they reach Britain.
Ministers also committed to support ‘circular migration’ to reduce the impact of skills loss on other countries; ensuring that migrants are able to send money back home; and enabling those who need protection to seek refuge as close to home as possible.
Borders and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
‘The message today is clear, we want the smugglers, traffickers and forgers out there to know, wherever they are in the world, we are watching them. Paying people traffickers is a rip-off.
‘Three-quarters of the world’s population now need a visa to come to Britain, and UK Border Agency officers are working in 135 different countries to stop organised criminals in their tracks.
‘Our enforcement work must go hand in hand with circular migration, and sharing our skills and training with developing nations.’
The action plan – entitled ‘International challenges, international solutions: managing the movement of people and goods’ – looks at proposals to allow skilled temporary residents in the UK to ‘pause’ their journey to citizenship so that they can return home and contribute their expertise. This would allow developing nations the chance to benefit from these skilled workers without interfering with the workers’ path to citizenship in the UK.
Mr Woolas said:
‘There is no question that migration has brought benefits to the UK economy. Many of those who come here plug hard-to-fill jobs gaps, playing a key role in running public services especially in health and education.
‘But while Britain is benefiting, it is important that we do not deprive other countries of the skilled people they need most. It’s in our long-term interest that they have the doctors, nurses and teachers who are so crucial to their development.
‘That’s why, particularly in these difficult times, we must ensure those that do come here are given the opportunity to help back home and invest their new-found skills.’
The UK Border Agency said that “through the points-based system and advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (a panel of independent economists), the Government will continue to ensure that Britain only gets the skilled workers it needs, and no more”.
Immigration Matters Comment
It is unclear exactly what this ‘international strategy, which seems to have been formed by two UK Government departments, will actually achieve.
What’s your view?
Would you be willing to ‘pause’ your ‘journey to citizenship’ in order to return home and contribute your expertise?
What do you think of this new term ‘circular migration’?