UK plans tough bor­der con­trols

VISA: To hand over re­turn­able cash bonds

Weekend Witness - - News -

LON­DON — Bri­tain is con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing much tougher bor­der con­trols and may oblige vis­i­tors from “high-risk” coun­tries to hand over a re­turn­able cash bond to de­ter them from over­stay­ing their visas, its deputy prime min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

“We need an im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that is zero-tol­er­ant to­wards abuse,” Nick Clegg said in his tough­est speech on the sub­ject yet, talk­ing of a “cri­sis of pub­lic con­fi­dence” in the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.

Clegg said he had asked the home of­fice or in­te­rior min­istry to look at start­ing a pi­lot scheme for the cash bonds. A sim­i­lar sys­tem is used by Aus­tralia.

He did not say which coun­tries he re­garded as “high-risk” or how much the bonds would be, but a government source said the sum would be vari­able and could be at least £1 000 (R14 000).

The is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion is sen­si­tive, not least be­cause the Con­ser­va­tive/Lib­eral Demo­crat coali­tion government says it is still anx­ious to at­tract for­eign na­tion­als to help it com­pete in what it calls “a global race” against surg­ing economies like China and Brazil.

But opin­ion polls show many Bri­tons want the cur­rent sys­tem tight­ened and are con­cerned about the ex­pected ar­rival of thou­sands of Ro­ma­ni­ans and Bul­gar­i­ans next year when Euro­pean Union free­dom of move­ment re­stric­tions on those two coun­tries are lifted.

The coun­try’s three main po­lit­i­cal par­ties are also un­der grow­ing pres­sure from the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP) which talks tough on im­mi­gra­tion and has spo­ken of Bri­tain’s in­abil­ity to po­lice its own bor­ders.

UKIP wants Bri­tain to leave the EU, in part so it can bet­ter con­trol its bor­ders, and came a sur­prise sec­ond in an elec­tion for a par­lia­men­tary seat this month, pil­ing pres­sure on the government to re­spond.

Clegg, who is also the leader of the Lib­eral Demo­crat party, told an au­di­ence in Lon­don the government would in­crease the cash penalty for em­ploy­ers who hire il­le­gal im­mi­grants from £10 000 per worker to a much higher un­spec­i­fied fig­ure.

He also spoke of try­ing to move away from government-funded trans­la­tion ser­vices for im­mi­grants, say­ing it might be bet­ter to re­fer them onto English-lan­guage cour­ses in time and to stop paying for trans­la­tion if they failed to “stick with” cour­ses.

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron is due to de­liver a speech on im­mi­gra­tion on Mon­day. — Reuters.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

An air­caft pre­pares to leave Leeds Brad­ford air­port in York­shire, in the United King­dom, dur­ing a heavy snow­storm yes­ter­day. Heavy snow is caus­ing dis­rup­tion to trans­port and schools across the UK in the cold­est March the coun­try has seen for decades, with no sign of the warm spring weather that Bri­tain en­joyed this time last year.

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