Monday, October 25, 2010

One third of 'brain surgeon' immigrants to Britain in unskilled jobs

Labour laws designed to bring highly-qualified foreign workers such as brain surgeons into the UK were used by immigrants to get jobs as shop assistants and security guards, the Coalition claimed last night.

Immigration Minister Damian Green unveiled research showing that nearly one in three immigrants in the Labour Government's 'tier one' category for top-level app­licants last year ended up doing ordinary unskilled jobs.

Tier one immigrants are categ­orised as doctors, scientists and entrepreneurs so skilled they could enter the UK without a job offer, said Mr Green. 'These are meant to be absolutely the brightest and the best,' he said in a BBC interview.

But the anomalies had been revealed after a sample was analysed. 'We have discovered that of the visas we issued last year 29 per cent are doing unskilled jobs,' he said. ' They're shop assistants, security guards, supermarket cashiers – all absolutely essential jobs we need for our economy.

'But at a time when we have a couple of million unemployed people in this country and we have 300,000 unemployed graduates, it seems to me pretty perverse if we say we've got to keep bringing in unlimited people because we think they are very highly skilled.'

The full research, based on a sample of 1,184 tier one immigrants out of more than 18,000 given visas in 2009 is to be published this week by the UK Border Agency. It was the first detailed look at how Labour's policies had operated, Mr Green added.

However, the revelations come amid concerns that the Coalition's interim cap on non-EU immmigration, introduced in July, is hurting British businesses and scientific research capability.

Yesterday, Chris Mawtus, chief operating officer of oil service company Expro which employs 1,000 people in the UK, warned: 'We may have to start thinking of reloc­ating some of our operations overseas.'

Former Tory Minister Lord Ryder, chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research, warned a House of Lords debate last week that the cap jeopardised its work and ability to 'bring in the right people at the right time'.

Mr Green insisted yesterday that the Government was being flexible and responding to concerns over the cap. He told The Mail on Sunday: 'It's a new system and there will be difficulties along the way but serious cases can be resolved.'

The current cap level would be reviewed and set at a permanent level next April after consultations, Mr Green added. But he stressed that the country could not go on with Labour's old 'unlimited immigration policy'.


Australia's Leftist policy on illegals will both encourage more to come and stoke opposition to them

IT has taken less than a week for political reality to get in the way of Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's policy response to the ever-increasing numbers of asylum-seekers.

On Monday, Mr Bowen announced a major modification to the policy of mandatory detention, perhaps the biggest change since it was introduced by the Keating government in 1992. Children and at least one parent will now be allowed to live in community housing, run by churches and charities, while their refugee claims are considered. The decision will be welcomed not just by the government's Green allies in the parliament but also by everybody in the community uncomfortable with locking children up. It is hard to imagine anything more unsettling for Australians than the sight of children playing behind razor wire.

But Mr Bowen's compassion comes at a price, and the minister should not underestimate the pitfalls. Too many Labor policies have come to grief at the intersection with the point of delivery.

The minister must start by listening to community concerns in Northam in Western Australia, where single male asylum-seekers will be housed, and Woodside in the Adelaide Hills, where 400 refugees will be housed. While it is easy for politically correct commentators to brush off opposition as unenlightened bigotry, the truth is residents have legitimate questions about what the impact of asylum-seekers' children will be on the local schools and how their health needs, and those of their parents, will be met.

The heavy-handed announcement of the Woodside decision without discussing it with anybody in South Australia, including Premier Mike Rann, will not create confidence. Mr Bowen owes a duty of care to the asylum-seekers he will send into these communities to ensure they stay safe and healthy and that their claims are processed as quickly as possible. But he must also start talking to Mr Rann and Western Australia's Premier, Colin Barnett, to ensure the communities of Woodside and Northam know they will not be overwhelmed.

Before the election, the Gillard government went out of its way to assure the electorate it would not encourage more asylum-seekers, and on ABC TV's Q&A, Mr Bowen acknowledged that detention centres existed for legitimate reasons when he took over the portfolio last month. He also told the network's Lateline he wanted to destroy the "people-smugglers business model".

While a regional processing centre in East Timor was one of the government's original schemes to destroy their industry, his new plan could easily have the opposite outcome. People-smugglers will work hard to argue that it is only a short step from being housed by a church or community group, with children free to attend school, to being accepted as a permanent resident. And if the smugglers make a convincing case, the boats will keep coming.

That Mr Bowen wants to be as kind as he can to the passengers of those that have already arrived is understandable. But releasing children and their parents into Australian communities is not a policy that can easily accommodate the right of asylum-seekers to fair process while respecting community concerns and tempting more people to take their chances on the cruel seas.


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