Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Immigration, Reid promises more action

Regrettably not of it sensible. The bullet points of the announcement are these (from the BBC here):

  • 'Watch list' of people not entitled to public services
  • Enforcement teams to track down bosses employing illegal workers
  • Compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals
  • Text alerts for people overstaying visas
  • Possible £20,000 fines for landlords housing illegal immigrants
  • Pilot schemes to use ID card data to ensure migrants pay for NHS care
Dealing with those in turn, the watch list assumes you know who these people are and that there is a record of them. In which case can we have the number of illegal immigrants who we know about? In practice we don't know who they all are.

Enforcement teams to track down bosses who employ illegal workers? Nice idea, though asking sure the DWP doesn't hand out National Insurance numbers with cornflakes would help. That said, clearly the IND does not have a combination of the right resource or leadership to do the job.

Compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals? Fantastic! So if they have no ID card does that mean they are not a foreign national? How is anyone supposed to tell?

Text alerts for people overstaying visas. You do have to laugh. That said I could not put it better than Damian Green the shadow immigration minister who said: "The idea that you are texting someone, saying that we are on your trail is just a joke. Do they have the mobile numbers of more than half a million illegal immigrants? No of course they don't." The thing is though, if someone comes here legally on a visa, and it runs out in 6 months, and you have their mobile phone number, how are you going to know they have not left the country on time? The borders are not watched, we don't know who has left the country. So we could end up sending harassing text messages to someone who has done nothing wrong!

Possible £20,000 fines for landlords housing illegal immigrants. I see. So when the police catch an illegal immigrant they can let them go, because the Immigration and Nationality Directorate can't deal with them, but private landlords have to become unpaid members of the IND. Brilliant! (See here and here)

Pilot schemes to use ID card data to ensure migrants pay for NHS care? I see. So we stop health tourism? Fine as far as it goes, but only if you have a clue who has a right to be here and who hasn't.

No matter what your view of immigration is, whether you think there is too much or too little, whether you think we should have the free movement of labour or not illegal immigration is bad. It undermines public confidence in the system and brings the law into disrepute. Not only that but it makes life much more difficult for legal immigrants.

The fact is that we do not need any new laws, nor do we need draconian measures. We just need to deal with the illegal immigrants the police already catch on a regular basis. This is nothing other than cheap headline grabbing rhetoric, and as Nick Clegg said: "If tough rhetoric and gimmicks were enough to sort out our immigration system, we would have the best in the world."

For more on immigration see here.


Anonymous said...

I was going to post about this, but no time again. I'm intrigued by the texting, how Reid will their mobile numbers, the chances are, even if he could, they would soon change them. A total farce.

Benedict White said...

Ellee, I fear you are being to kind to Dr Reid.

I know what you mean about the time though!

CityUnslicker said...

this is all smokescreen 'we don't have a policy but need to look tough' posturing again.

They are running out of time though before they start flatlining in the polls.

Benedict White said...

CityUnslicker, Yes that is about the size of it.

Useless bunch.