Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bungling British immigration control

A THREE HOUR wait to get into Britain: Olympic official's fury after he was delayed at passport control  -- and  no sign of an apology from the Border Agency

An Olympic official has complained after he queued for three hours to pass through immigration checks at Heathrow.

The revelation is bound to cause fresh embarrassment for Home Secretary Theresa May after it was recently revealed passengers could be 'left on runways' as airports struggle to cope during the Olympic Games.

Senior MPs warned earlier this month that planes could be forced to circle the airport and tourists made to queue at passport control for several hours.

In a leaked letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the MPs claim cuts to UK Border Agency staff and poor contingency plans could be a recipe for disaster during the London 2012 Games.

Heathrow's owner BAA has confirmed that a senior Olympic official made a complaint and said that some passengers had queued for 2.5 hours. The Home Office and BAA both declined to name the official concerned.

A source at the UK Border Agency told The Sunday Times a report explaining the delays at Heathrow's Terminal 5 on Tuesday night was drafted because 'a senior Olympic bigwig was caught in [the queue] who was not impressed and had made a complaint'.

Shashank Nigam, chief executive of Simpliflying, an airline marketing company, said he had also queued for 2 hours and 50 minutes on the same day.  He told the Sunday Times: 'To my horror, the queues were spilling into the overflow area and there weren't enough staff to manage everyone.'  Other people reported seeing passengers sleeping because of such long delays.

As many as 600,000 people are expected to arrive at Heathrow around the time of the Games, which run from July 27 to August 13, causing further chaos and longer queues.

This latest incident has caused airport and airline bosses to accuse the border agency of not being able to cope.

BAA, which owns Heathrow, said immigration does not have enough staff to carry out the checks following the reintroduction of tougher checks after unauthorised relaxation of procedures by Brodie Clark, former head of the UK Border Force.

The Government plans to cut the number of border officer staff from 8,874 in March 2010 to 7,322 by March 2015.  But unions have been told extra staff will be drafted in to ease pressure during the Olympics and will include people from the Home Office and HM Revenue & Customs, some of which have retired.

A BAA spokesman said they are experiencing high levels of arrivals in the airport for which the border force is failing to provide resources.

A Border Agency spokesman said they refuse to compromise security but will aim to keep disruption to a minimum. It said it was inevitable that thorough checks would cause some queuing during peak times.


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

1. The Alleged Costs of Ending Universal Birthright Citizenship: A Response to the National Foundation for American Policy (Memorandum)

2. Document Fraud in Employment Authorization: How an E-Verify Requirement Can Help (Congressional Testimony)

3. Flushing Out the Extremes on Immigration. The DREAM Act was supposed to, but didn’t. Secure Communities can (Op-ed)

4. Reform Our Visa System for Entrepreneurs or Reform the Economy? (Blog)

5. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are (Blog)

6. Let's Create American Workers' Desks in Federal Agencies (Blog)

7. Clueless in Cook County (Blog)

8. Dear Reader: Please Encourage USCIS Do the Right Thing! (Blog)

9. 'I Absolutely and Entirely Renounce and Abjure ...' (Blog)

10. A Little Bit of Nationalism, Please: Or Which of Those Are U.S. Firms? (Blog)

11. EB-5's Institutional Allies Give the Program a Hard Time (Blog)

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