Secure Borders, Safe Haven - Integration With Diversity In Modern Britain
Nationality, Immigration & Asylum White Paper Published
A radical, overarching reform of nationality, immigration and asylum policy in the UK was published by the Home Secretary today.
The White Paper - Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with diversity in modern Britain, sets out a comprehensive set of measures to deliver a properly managed, robust and integrated system of immigration, nationality and asylum for Britain in the 21st Century. The measures will enable the UK to manage migration, secure its borders, and build trust and credibility in the system amongst the wider community.
The policy proposals set out an end-to-end process for dealing with asylum seekers, in which applicants are tracked and supported from induction, through new accommodation and reporting centres, to integration or removal. It also outlines separate routes of entry for those who come to the UK seeking employment from those who arrive genuinely fleeing persecution, with a new overseas gateway for refugees.
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett said:
"For far too long we have seen our immigration, nationality and asylum policies as separate areas that exist alongside each other but operate on different levels for different people. That ignores both the reality of the world we live in, and the need to integrate how we deal with those who come to the UK as economic migrants, asylum seekers or new citizens.
"To welcome others who need our protection or have a contribution to make to our society, we must be secure within a shared sense of belonging and identity. Strong civic and community foundations are necessary if we are to secure integration with diversity. They will enable us to reach out and to embrace those who seek to make our country their home, to work, to contribute or to escape from persecution, torture or death.
"It is a "two-way street", requiring commitment and action from both the host community and asylum seekers and long term migrants alike. We have fundamental moral obligations, which we will always honour. We must uphold basic human rights, tackling the racism and prejudice which people still too often face. At the same time, those coming into our country have duties that they need to understand and which facilitate their acceptance and integration."
The White Paper carries specific proposals on:
Citizenship & Nationality - proposals include:
· A new Citizenship Pledge, modernising the current Oath of Allegiance sworn by those taking British nationality and bringing it into the 21st century;
· Ensuring that language skills and knowledge about British society become a requirement of citizenship;
· New citizenship ceremonies that will end the "mail order" approach to acquiring British nationality, giving meaning and value to the acquisition of British citizenship.
Mr Blunkett said:
"I believe it is fundamentally important that people living in the UK on a permanent basis should be able to take a full and active role in our society. We should value, promote and give real content to the acquisition of British nationality and the process of integration."
"Evidence suggest that migrants who are fluent in English, are, on average, 20 per cent more likely to be employed than those lacking such skills. To encourage this, we will ask that applicants for naturalisation to demonstrate a certain standard of language. At the same time, we will require knowledge about British society and institutions for those taking on citizenship - helping us secure integration with diversity."
Working in the UK:
· The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme - a system in which highly skilled migrants get points for the skills, knowledge and experience they have in order to work in the UK - so that we can attract the best of the world's brainpower.
· Measures to enable foreign students who have graduated in the UK, student nurses, postgraduate doctors and dentists, to switch into work permit employment;
· Reform of short term casual and seasonal labour - building on the principles of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Scheme (SAWS) to ensure that sectors with short term labour needs can recruit the staff they need;
· Reform of the working holidaymakers scheme, with a consultation document looking at ways to make it less restrictive, open to all skill levels, and available to the EU accession candidate countries
· Ministers of Religion- encouragement for qualified foreign nationals already in the UK to apply, so that postholders are not drawn disproportionately from those outside the UK who may have very limited knowledge of British society and our fundamental values. For those entering the UK ensuring they have an understanding and appreciation of the language and culture of the UK;
· Better regulation of work permit advisory services.
Mr Blunkett said:
"We are not a "fortress Britain". We are an open, trading economy, and we need to ensure that we can recruit the people we need to compete and prosper in the new global economy."
"But we need to be hard headed and realistic about the impact of clandestine entry and illegal working on our social cohesion and fair working practices. I am determined to balance a new comprehensive and holistic approach to managed migration by a tough, competent and clear process for dealing with claims from those wishing to remain in the UK."
Asylum Policy- Ensuring End to End Credibility- proposals include:
· A radical new system of induction, accommodation, reporting and removal centres to secure a seamless asylum process which monitors and provides the appropriate measures at every stage of the process;
· A resettlement programme, operated with the UNHCR, to establish legal gateways for certified refugees in need of protection, avoiding dangerous and highly visible illegal methods of entry.
· The Application Registration Card - launched last week - that will prevent fraud and provide more secure evidence of identity and nationality;
· Tough measures to prevent delay and obstruction in the appeals system and unmeritorious applications for judicial reviews - including making the Immigration Appeals Tribunal a Superior Court of Record; setting closure dates on appeals to stop multiple adjournments; tighter time limits on appeals; and measures to ensure the merits test for public funding of legal representation is being applied properly;
· A 50 per cent expansion in the number of appeals that can be heard every month;
· An increase of 40 per cent in secure removals centre places to 4,000 by Spring 2003;
· Refugee Integration - cutting out bureaucratic delay with simplified integration procedures;
· A new Immigration Hotline - through which members of the public can report immigration offences;
Mr Blunkett said:
"Last year, I outlined radical reform of how we will deal with asylum seekers in this country, and work is already underway to put my new systems in place. The new end-to-end system will be properly managed and effectively operated. We will cut out abuse at the same time as we provide basic fairness and dignity to asylum seekers."
"Trust and confidence in the asylum system is vital for our social cohesion. Our changes to the process will ensure that claims are dealt with fairly and swiftly, while people who have exhausted the immigration process and no longer have the legal right to live in the UK, will not remain here.
"It is often too difficult for those who have a well founded fear of persecution to arrive legally in the UK to seek our help.
We propose to develop ways in which some refugees will have their claim considered before they reach the UK. With these procedures in place, they will then be able to travel here in safety and on arrival receive help and protection.
"However, this country will not tolerate so called "asylum shopping".
We expect the international community, and in particular our European neighbours, to share the global responsibility to those that are in need of help."
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, who is responsible for the asylum and
immigration appeals system, said:
"It is important that the appeals system is fair, effective and recognised
as such. Appeals must be decided with the minimum of delay, so that those entitled to asylum status can be recognised quickly and start to become part of our community, and the Home Office can seek the removal of those whose appeal has been dismissed and have no further rights of appeal. The new measures announced today will help us meet these objectives.
"The 50 per cent increase in the capacity of the appeals system will mean that the number of appeals heard by adjudicators will increase from 4,000 to 6,000 cases a month from November. In fact, we have already made a start by increasing the number of cases the IAA currently receives to 4500 cases per month. There should also be a reduction in asylum cases applying for judicial review as we are raising the status of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.
"The White Paper underlines the Government's commitment to ensure access to good quality legal advice for asylum seekers."
Tackling Fraud- People Trafficking, Illegal Entry and Illegal Working-
· A new 14 year penalty for people trafficking to tackle, in particular the sexual exploitation of women;
· 14 year penalty for facilitating illegal entry, as announced by the Home Secretary on 15/01/02;
· Improved enforcement action to tackle illegal working;
· Cracking down on organised crime through prevention strategies in source and transit countries and targeting criminals through intelligence and enforcement operations;
· Information campaign to target would-be employers of illegal workers;
· Co-operating robustly, practically and extensively with EU partners;
· Dealing compassionately with victims of trafficking;
Mr Blunkett said:
"We want to put an end to the trade in human misery. Our laws will be strengthened so that those who exploit vulnerable individuals will be detected and punished."
Border Controls- measures will build on:
· Increased deployment of Airline Liaison Officers and Immigration Officers overseas to check and help prevent improperly documented passengers travelling to the UK;
· Visa regimes for nationals of countries where there is evidence of systematic abuse of our controls;
· Increased use of biometric, x/gamma ray scanners and up to date technology at ports and airports.
Mr Blunkett said:
"Our aim is to ensure that both residents and genuine visitors to the UK pass as quickly as possible through our border Immigration Control.
"Using intelligence abroad is stopping many entering the UK illegally- during 2001, 22,515 passengers, carrying inadequate documents, were denied boarding by carriers at Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) locations.
"However, we do not take the enormity of the task of securing our borders lightly, and we are committed to continued investment in new technology and intelligence to combat clandestine entry into the UK."
Marriage and Family visits- proposals include:
· Tackling sham marriages - an increase in the probationary period for marriage from one to two years, helping to tackle the problem of abusive and forced marriages, as well as fraud;
· Consulting on a "no switching" policy to stop people applying to remain on the basis of marriage after entering the UK as a visitor or in a temporary capacity for less than 6 months. In 1999, 76% of those granted leave to remain on the basis of marriage had entered for another purpose, and 50% of those who switched into marriage did so within 6 months of entry into the UK.
· Modernising Immigration Rules for unmarried partners;
Mr Blunkett said:
"Fraudulent marriages are a growing problem in our immigration system. And forced marriages abuse the rights of women in this country. So we need to get tough, changing the rules and following up reports of abuse with enforcement action.
"My proposals will make it more difficult for those who come into this country and enter into a sham marriage. Our changes will not penalise those in authentic relationships, but provide a longer period to test the genuineness of the marriage, and increase the chance of exposing any marriages that are a sham."
The White Paper was welcomed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Helen Liddell who said:
"This White Paper is an important step in the development of United Kingdom policy on nationality and immigration matters. The complex and comprehensive package outlined in it will provide fundamental improvements to the underlying system. Scotland has a long tradition of welcoming people from other countries, and the Scotland Office looks forward to working closely in partnership with the Home Office, the Scottish Executive and local agencies and the voluntary sector to take forward the necessary steps in Scotland.
Many of the proposals have significant implications for Scotland, particularly those that will affect the 5000 asylum seekers already living in Scotland and those that have yet to arrive. The Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive are committed to ensuring that everyone receives the support and assistance that they are legitimately entitled to. We recognise that new residents bring new skills and add diversity and vibrancy to communities. We must ensure that every resident is recognised as a full and valued member of the local community and is given the opportunity to achieve their full potential."
Welcoming the White Paper, the Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, said:
"Wales is well known in its cultural diversity and has, over the years welcomed a great many people from different parts of the world.
"I welcome the measures in the White Paper as a genuine step forward in our reform of nationality, immigration and asylum policies.
"I very much welcome the fact that the Home Office, in this White Paper, has paid special regard to the Welsh language and to the fact that a number of services which are crucial to the achievement of the policies are devolved, resulting in different circumstances in Wales.
"We are working together with the National Assembly for Wales in partnership with the Home Office about the implications that may arise from the White Paper and any other immigration issues that affect Wales.
"This shows the value to Wales of a positive partnership between the Government and the National Assembly"
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Home Office White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven- Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain published today, is available on the Home Office website www.homeoffice.gov.uk
Media copies are available from the Home Office Press Office on 020 7273 4545. The White Paper has been published for consultation until 21 March, 2002.
2. For the further information on the Home Secretary's statement on the 29/10/01 and more detailed information on Induction centres; Accommodation centres; Removal centres; Voucher review; see PN 266/2001
3. For further information on the measures the Home Secretary announced to improve border control on the 19.09.01see PN 214/2001
4. For further information on ARC cards see PN 29/2002
5. For further information on Entitlement Cards see PN 034/2002
6. For further information on the immigration and asylum appeals system see LCD Press Notice 12/02, 8/01/02
EXISTING OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
(BRITISH NATIONALITY ACT 1981)
I (full name) swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen * I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Her Heirs and Successors according to law.
Or spoken affirmation
I (full name) do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that, on becoming a British citizen* I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors according to law.
*or British Dependent Territories citizen
British Overseas citizen
British National Overseas
PROPOSED CITIZENSHIP PLEDGE FOR PEOPLE BECOMING BRITISH CITIZENS
I [swear by Almighty God] [do solemnly and sincerely affirm] that, from this time forward, I will give my loyalty and allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Her Heirs and Successors and to the United Kingdom. I will respect the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.