Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lax Olympic border checks 'may let in illegal migrants' as well as thousands of athletes

Thousands of foreign athletes will be allowed into Britain without visas for the Olympics, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed. The decision, rubberstamped by Immigration Minister Damian Green, could open the door to illegal migrants, MPs warned.

It is expected to spark renewed controversy over lax border controls and national security.

Documents reveal that border officials plan to conduct 60-second biometric checks on competitors when they arrive at airports next summer. Those turning up at small airfields or marinas without border staff on duty will escape the checks altogether. They will be ‘on trust’ to report to a UK Border Agency (UKBA) office within 48 hours to be photographed and give their fingerprint scans.

This is despite the fact that British sporting events have been blighted in recent years by the disappearance of overseas participants. In 2002, members of the Bangladeshi relay team disappeared during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester before they had run a race, and 21 athletes from Sierra Leone went missing after the Games.

The same year, 58 golfers from Nigeria and Ghana were granted visas to compete in qualifying events at the Open, but 53 vanished as soon as they landed in the UK. Two years ago four Ethiopian athletes fled from their hotel in London.

The little-known deal struck between the Government, the International Olympic Committee and the London Olympic Games organising committee, means the normal visa rules have been abandoned for all 25,000 non-EU competitors, their coaches, and team officials.

It is thought that half the 25,000 due to arrive without visas already have their biometrics lodged with the UKBA after a previous UK visit or visa application. This means their criminal records can be checked against immigration and security databases before they travel.

However, the remaining 12,500 from more than 175 nations – including terrorist hotspots such as Pakistan, Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan – will arrive carrying only photo-identity accreditation cards issued by the Olympic authorities and their national passports.

Labour MP Mark Hendrick, a critic of Olympic security, described the decision to waive the UK visa as ‘madness’. He is expected to demand an emergency Parliamentary debate on the issue. He said: ‘At a time when heightened security regarding terrorism is needed, the Government is lowering the barriers.’

Alp Mehmet, an advisory council member of MigrationWatch UK and former immigration officer, expressed concern about the lack of checks on athletes, coaches and officials returning home after the Olympics.

He said: ‘History tells us that there will be those who abscond and never leave. But how will we know who they are, or the numbers, if the athletes are not checked out?’

A Home Office spokesman said that the visa-free rules do not allow anyone to settle in the UK and added: ‘They are specifically for the purpose of taking part in the Games.’


Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. Why USCIS Should Not ‘Streamline’ the Immigrant Investor Program (Testimony)

2. There's a Steady Flow of New Spouses Among Those Migrating to the U.S. (Blog)

3. GAO Report: Illegal Aliens Start Forest Fires (Blog)

4. We Have the Facts, But They Have Both the Poetry and the Magazine Covers (Blog)

5. Newt Morphing into Bush and Teddy Kennedy on Amnesty (Blog)

6. The Gingrich Amnesty (Blog)

7. Chain Migration, the TPS Way (Blog)

8. Stapling Green Cards to Diplomas, and Other Foolish Ideas You Might Have Missed in the GOP Debate (Blog)

9. GAO Finds Illegals Are Often Fire Starters (Blog)

10. Murders Twice Linked to Immigration Marriage Fraud in D.C. Area (Blog)

11. U.S. = Stupid Cupid, U.K. = Scrooge Regarding Immigration and Marriage (Blog)

No comments:

Post a Comment