Friday, December 30, 2011

U.S. sets up hotline for detained immigrants

Not hard to see where this is going. More congestion in the courts and hence greater incentive to detain even fewer illegals

U.S. immigration authorities are setting up a telephone hotline to ensure that detainees held by local police forces partnering in a controversial federal immigration enforcement program are adequately informed of their rights.

The initiative announced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Thursday provides a toll-free number to field queries from detainees held by state or local law enforcement agencies "if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime."

The hotline will be staffed 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services will be available in several languages, ICE said in a news release.

"ICE personnel will collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office for immediate action," it added.

Scores of state and local police forces partner with the U.S. federal government under the so-called 287 g program. It empowers participating agencies to enforce immigration law, although its implementation has been controversial.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department said a hard-line Arizona sheriff and his deputies violated U.S. civil rights laws by engaging in racial profiling of Latinos and making unlawful arrests in their bid to crack down on illegal immigrants.

In a separate move, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ended the 287 g agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that allowed its deputies to screen jail inmates for their immigration status.

As part of the initiative announced Thursday, ICE said a form will also be issued to all detainees -- with available translations in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese -- informing them that ICE will assume their custody within 48 hours.

"It also advises individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody within the 48 hours, they should contact the police agency or entity that is holding them to inquire about their release from state or local custody," it said.


Brussels rules let 11,000 migrants a year slip into the UK by the back door

Brussels rules are letting thousands of migrants into Britain ‘by the back door’. Nearly 11,000 moved here this year on the basis of having been given citizenship in another EU country.

The total, revealed in figures from the Office for National Statistics, is up more than a third on the 8,000 cases recorded in 2006. Many of the migrants would normally have been barred from taking up residence in Britain.

But under EU rules they are automatically entitled to come here once they have EU citizenship and start working – or claiming benefits. The data, compiled from passenger surveys, shows that 47,000 non-EU immigrants have found their way to the UK using this method over the past five years.

Priti Patel, the Tory MP who uncovered the information, said the loophole completely undermined Government efforts to curb the surge in immigration that took place under Labour. She urged ministers to raise the issue in Brussels and take action to wrest back control of Britain’s borders.

Miss Patel took up the issue herself after a BBC documentary in October highlighted the case of an Ecuadorean family who moved to London after gaining citizenship in Spain. The family of six were receiving £2,300 a month in housing benefit to rent a flat in Islington, as well as tax credits and child benefit.

Miss Patel said she was ‘astonished’ by the number of people entering the UK by this route. She added: ‘The Government has made a commitment to cut immigration from outside the EU into Britain. But those efforts are being completely undermined by this astonishing loophole which has already allowed 10,000 non-Europeans to sneak in through the backdoor each year.

‘The British public are living with the consequences of a decade of Labour’s open door policy on immigration which is why this Government must take on these EU laws that let non-Europeans come into Britain and access jobs and benefits. ‘It is in the British interest to reject these laws and on this issue, just say no to Europe.

‘This also raises the question of why these people are choosing to come here. They have entered the EU elsewhere and chosen to become citizens of other EU countries, yet they are still coming here. ‘Is it down to a benefits system which encourages people to come here and live off the state?’

The revelation raises fresh questions about the Coalition’s pledge to cut net immigration to under 100,000 a year. Last month official figures revealed that the figure had soared to a record 252,000 in 2010.

EU countries all have different requirements for migrants wanting to become a citizen, and there are fears that some could be a soft touch for those whose ultimate aim is to come to the UK.

EU rules mean that asylum seekers are meant to be dealt with in the country of their arrival. But in cases where a migrant or asylum seeker has been granted citizenship they are free to travel anywhere in the EU.

Critics claim that Britain’s generous benefits system acts as a magnet for migrants.

Ministers have introduced a range of measures designed to curb immigration, including a cap on the number of non-EU economic migrants coming here and a crackdown on bogus colleges providing a route into Britain for migrants posing as students.

But officials admit there is little they can do to curb immigration from the EU, because free movement of labour is a fundamental principle of the single market.

A landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice last week stripped Britain of its power to return asylum seekers to Greece. Under EU rules, British officials can return asylum seekers to the first European country they set foot in. But the ECJ last week said no one should be returned to a country if it did not uphold their ‘fundamental rights’. This would rule out Greece because its asylum system is in such a mess. Around 90 per cent of illegal migrants enter Europe through the country.


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