The UK Border Agency has taken the unusual step of directly responding to a Daily Mail (14 May 09) newspaper article about illiegal immigrants travelling from Greece to the United Kingdom via the Republic of Ireland.
The Mail accused the UK Border Agency of weak border controls for flights from holiday destinations and also highlighted the abuse of the route to UK visa Ireland.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said:
‘We are working closely with the Republic of Ireland to tackle illegal immigration and through the use of the latest hi-tech border technology, joint sea and port operations and the continued exchange of intelligence.
‘Together we intend to continue strengthening our common travel area, and already we’re both introducing electronic border systems to allow us to count people in and out of the country, and check people against watch-lists.
‘We welcome the ongoing activities that our French colleagues are undertaking to fight against the trafficking of illegal immigrants.
‘The United Kingdom policy is to not sign up to the Schengen Agreement. Free movement is only rightly available to legal entrants. Weakening our controls will only play into the hands of the traffickers who profit from human misery and suffering.
‘We have made it clear that those trying to cheat our system will not be tolerated, which is why last year UK Border Agency staff worked tirelessly at our French and Belgium controls – stopping more than 28,000 attempts to cross the Channel illegally.’
The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament has proposed introducing border controls between the UK and Irish Republic.
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