The Government has published a new bill this week to force UK migrants to “earn the right to stay” and strengthen the UK’s borders.
Foreign nationals who commit serious offences already face automatic consideration for deportation, but the ‘earned citizenship’ proposals go further. Anyone sent to prison will face removal, and even those committing minor offences will normally need to wait until their conviction is spent before they can become citizens.
Britain‘s security will be strengthened by giving frontline staff of the UK Border Agency combined customs and immigration powers, making it easier to deal with illegal immigration and drugs and arms smuggling.
Borders will be further strengthened by enabling routine border controls on air and sea routes for people travelling between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The power to control people travelling within the Common Travel Area (CTA) will ensure that the UKBA has the tools it needs to protect the border and will pave the way for the high-tech e-Borders programme – to check travellers against watch-lists – on air and sea routes between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The new measures will also empower the UK Border Agency:
- request identification for passengers travelling by air and sea between Britain and the Republic of Ireland
- conduct intelligence-led operations to check those entering via the land border in Northern Ireland and those arriving from the Crown dependencies
The Home Office has said that there are no plans to introduce fixed controls on the land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland or on routes from the Crown dependencies to the UK.
The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill will also be introducing:
- a duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard the welfare of children in its work
- new rules to give automatic British nationality to a child born in the UK where at least one parent is a foreign or Commonwealth member of the British armed forces
- a remedy to fix the current situation whereby a father could pass on his British nationality to a child born abroad before 1961 while a mother could not
The latest proposed changes are part of the Government’s “shake-up” of the immigration system, following the roll out of the points-based system and ID cards for foreign nationals. The bill will now go through the reading stages in the House of Lords and Commons, where the finer details will be scrutinised before it becomes Law.