In statistics published this month, figures show the Government is “removing those that have no right to be here, especially those that cause the most harm”.
In the first six months of 2008 32,230 people were removed (a form of deportation) from the UK, up 6% from the first half of 2007. Within this figure the number of non-asylum removals increased – going from 23,195 to 26,275, a rise of 13%.
The statement said that last year the Home Office removed a “record 4,200 foreigner prisoners and this year is on track to meet its target to remove at least 5,000”. In the first six months of this year over 2,500 foreign prisoners have been removed – a 23% increase on the same period last year.
To speed up the removal process further still the Government announced in May that the immigration detention estate would increase its capacity by 60%, with an additional 1,300 to 1,500 spaces for immigration offenders, within two years.
In 2007 the number of people applying for asylum fell to its lowest level since 1993 with 23,430 applications. Application levels remain historically low, between April and June this year 5,720 people applied for refuge, compared to 6,595 in the previous three months of 2008.
Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:
“Britain‘s borders are stronger than ever with asylum applications at an historic low and an immigration offender removed every eight minutes.
“Foreign lawbreakers are being removed from Britain at record levels with more than 2,500 deported so far this year. I have made it repeatedly clear that people who come here must earn the right to stay, work hard and play by the rules.”
The Government has this year seen the introduction of:
- a tough new Australian-style Points Based System (PBS) to allow only the workers Britain needs
- the fingerprinting of any visa applicant from across the globe (more than 2.7 million sets of fingerprints have been taken, detecting 3,500 cases of identity swaps)
- civil penalties targeting those employing illegal workers – (540 businesses have been issued with fines worth over £5.4 million pounds since February this year)
In November the Government will also begin the introduction of compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals, which will lock people down to one identity using the latest biometric technology.
The Government has also published a consultation on proposed reforms to the immigration appeals process.
Whilst the British public will applaud the removal of “foreign lawbreakers”, what the average person may not realise is that honest law abiding legal migrants are also being removed from the UK.
Senior Carers, Catering workers and students are being refused visa extensions by an increasingly inflexible UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Level 3 Immigration Adviser, Mike Higgs said that Home Office caseworkers no longer allow for any flexibility.
“In the last year or so, Home Office caseworkers have stopped all flexibility or discretion on applications.”
Whilst we do not have detailed statistics, Immigration Matters has received a marked increase of enquiries from migrants who feel like they are being “hounded out of the country”.
This week alone I have seen two Filipino, and one Indian, Work Permit holders who have been denied extensions on grounds which did not exist when they first obtained their permits.
One, an Assistant Manager with a well known Pizza chain, had her application to extend her two year Work Permit turned down because the UKBA had since imposed a higher salary, which the employer could not afford to pay – some £6000 more than the rate local employers pay for the job.
She has now accepted a ‘fast food’ position in Canada, where after one year she will be able to apply for permanent residency and petition members of her extended family.
Had she worked in Canada for the last tow years she would be a Canadian resident and could apply for her Brothers, Sisters and even parents to join her.
She has booked her flight back to the Philippines before her visa expires this weekend to avoid being hit by a ban on coming back to the UK under Sec 320. The Canadian employer will deal with her Work Permit and visa whilst she is in the Philippines.
In another case this week, a Nurse has been refused a Work Permit because the advertised hourly salary was 50 pence less that the new “going rate” for Nurses. We are now dealing with a reapplication.
In other cases, Senior Carers and their families have been forced return home by the hundreds, Overseas Students are being refused Visa extensions because they worked a few more hours than the allowed level and people are being refused Indefinite Leave to Remain on a variety of minor technicalities.
These people are not criminals or failed asylum seekers who have gone into hiding, yet they are often made to feel as such. They are hardworking migrants, usually doing jobs that locals do not want to do, who want to settle in the UK and contribute to the economy and society as a whole.
Why is the Government driving these students and working migrants out? The UK needs them, employers do not want to lose them. And they certainly do not want to uproot their families and leave the country they have come to call their home.