Government announces tougher border controls

The government has announced plans to introduce tougher powers for immigration officers with the publication of the new UK Borders Bill.

The Bill will give the new Border and Immigration Agency a wide range of new powers to deter, detect and deport those breaking the rules.

The key measures will provide immigration officers with greater powers, ensure that foreign national prisoners face automatic deportation and tackle illegal working and fraud.

The new powers for immigration officers will include the ability to:
  • arrest people smugglers or traffickers even if their crimes were committed outside of the UK
  • detain at ports individuals they suspect of having committed a crime, or those with a warrant outstanding against them
  • arrest those they believe to have been fraudulently been acquiring asylum-support and to exercise associated powers of entry, search and seizure
  • access Her Majesty's Revenue Customs data to track down illegal immigrants
Foreign nationals living in the UK will also have to apply for a "biometric immigration document", which will be compulsory for those living in the UK from outside the EEA. Failure to do so will risk the loss of leave to remain in the UK and/or a penalty of up to £1,000.

Under the new legislation, foreign national prisoners will face automatic deportation if they have committed a serious offence, such as crimes against children, terrorism or drugs offences and been sentenced to imprisonment or any other offences which resulted in a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.

They will also no longer have the right to appeal from within the UK except under very specific circumstances.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "The UK Borders Bill will give immigration officers vital new powers to do their job better, to secure our borders, tackle the traffickers and shut down illegal working. It will build on existing legislation and commitments made by John Reid last summer to overhaul our immigration system.

"We estimate that a significant proportion of illegal immigration is in the hands of organised crime - the measures announced today will help disrupt those networks and ensure the UK becomes a more hostile environment for those abusing our laws."

Former Foreign Secretary Charles Clarke lost his job last year when it emerged that 1,000 foreign prisoners had been released although they had not been considered for deportation.


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