Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Singapore crackdown gets results

Focusing on those likely to be sympathetic to illegals

The number of immigration offenders arrested continued its steady decline, as the number of overstayers and illegal immigrants caught last year fell.

However, attempts at smuggling in contraband items at the checkpoints reached a record high last year, according to numbers released by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) yesterday.

The number of illegal immigrants arrested fell 35 per cent from 1,430 in 2010 to 930 last year, while the number of overstayers registered a decline of 23 per cent, from 2,830 in 2010 to 2,180 last year.

Overall, the number of immigration offenders fell from 5,560 in 2009 to 3,110 last year.

The ICA said the number of immigration offenders arrested has been steadily declining since 2001, thanks to "thorough examinations and tightened security" at the checkpoints.

The number of vehicles seized for conveying immigration offenders has also generally been on a downward trend since 2001, and dropped by more than half from 18 in 2010 to seven last year.

Also down was the number of people caught harbouring and employing immigration offenders last year, dropping by almost half from 77 in 2010 to 40. Similarly, the number of employers arrested also fell from 26 in 2010 to 23 last year.

The ICA said it has adopted a more focused approach to reach out on harbouring, targeting housing agents, grassroots leaders, students as well as senior citizens.


Greece to build £2.5million six-mile razor wire wall to block worst illegal immigration route into Europe

The busiest crossing point for illegal immigrants into Europe is set to be blocked with a new £2.5million razor wire wall. Greek authorities plan to erect the six mile, 13ft high double fence, on an area bordering Turkey which sees an average of 245 people per day crossing illegally, the EU's border agency Frontex's figures show. And according to latest estimates, around 90 per cent of all illegal immigrants into the EU have come through Greece.

Once inside Europe's visa-free Schengen zone, people are free to travel unchecked through internal borders, and many travel on to the UK.

Greece has been warned that failure to step up border controls would leave the country at risk of being expelled from the Schengen zone.

Speaking to reporters while inaugurating a new police command centre on the border, Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis told reporters: 'This is an opportunity for us to send a clear message ... to all the EU, that Greece is fully compliant with its border commitments.' 'Traffickers should know that this route will be closed to them. Their life is about to get much harder.'

Papoutsis said work on the fence which will stretch between the villages of Kastanies and Nea Vyssa in the Evros border region, near the north eastern town of Orestiada, would begin next month. It should be linked to a network of fixed night-vision cameras providing real-time footage to the new command center.

Most of Greece's 125-mile border with Turkey is delineated by the Evros River - called the Meric River in Turkey - but the fence will cover a short stretch where the two countries are divided by land.

Greece is already receiving emergency assistance at the Evros border from the EU border protection agency, Frontex.

Despite police efforts to seal the border, illegal immigrants continued to walk across. Three men spotted walking across the frontier in torrential rain told The Associated Press that they had come from strife-torn Syria. 'We've been walking for seven days,' said one of the men, who only identified himself as Said, 24, but gave no other details. 'I'm trying to reach an uncle of mine who lives in Hungary.'

Mr Papoutsis' plans for a strengthened border have been controversial in the past with the European Commission critcising them as a 'short-term measure' that did not deal with the root of the problem. Last year he had said the wall was a necessary measure after more than 100,000 people illegally entered the Mediterranean nation in the previous 12 months.

He added: 'The Greek public has reached its limit in taking in illegal immigrants. We are absolutely determined on this issue. Greece can’t take it anymore.'


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