Sunday, January 27, 2013

British minister blocks moves to ease immigration rules

The Home Secretary has blocked a proposal by the Treasury to help the economy by relaxing immigration rules, it has emerged.

Sources said Theresa May has been fighting against moves by her Cabinet colleagues to give more visas to highly-skilled people.

A number of senior ministers, including George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, believe letting in more well-qualified foreign workers could help boost the economy.

However, Mrs May has been standing up to her colleagues amid fears that watering down the rules would stop the Coalition meeting its targets on cutting immigration.

She warned in a speech before Christmas mass immigration can push up house prices, forces people onto benefits, and suppresses wages for the low-paid.

The Home Secretary is in charge of enforcing a promise made by David Cameron at the last election to reduce net migration to the tens, not hundreds of thousands.

Over the last year, the Prime Minister has come under pressure from within the Coalition and business groups to scrap that target.

One senior ministerial source said the target should be abandoned because it is harming the economy and would be “virtually impossible to achieve” anyway. The sources described the targets as "a bit absurd" and counter-productive at a time when Britain needs all the help it can get to return to growth.

In November, John Cridland, the director-general of the CBI, was one of the first public figures to call for the policy to be changed.

He said the immigration of students and business people were not so much a concern of the public.

“I don’t think this will ever be resolved until the government changes the target.”

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has also warned that limiting access to Britain for students and business people is harming the City of London.

On a visit to India, he said last year, he said the public does not want to highly-skilled people.

“A tough immigration policy would have said that you can’t come here unless you have a visible means of support and are not going to be a burden on the National Health Service or housing system,” he said.

“People understand that... what they don’t understand is excluding talented people.”

On the same trip, Mr Johnson also called for ministers to “shift the debate on student visas away from numerical targets and squarely onto policy based on promoting jobs and growth in the UK”.

The Government has since tweaked the rules to allow foreign PhD students to stay in the UK for a year after their studies.

However, Mrs May has been standing firm on the key targets amid wider worries that loosening the rules could threaten national security.

A letter leaked to The Daily Telegraph earlier this year showed the Home Secretary’s office issued Downing Street with a warning against relaxing the rules for Chinese tourists.

Her private secretary wrote in a letter to Number 10 that this could lead to a rise in organised crime and bring more asylum seekers to Britain.


Immigrant who lured underage schoolgirls to house for sex can't be deported from Britain because he is a member of 'persecuted African tribe'

An immigrant who was locked up for four years after he had unprotected sex with a 13-year-old girl cannot be deported because he is member of a 'persecuted' African tribe, it was disclosed today.

Jumaa Kater Saleh, 24, who arrived in the UK in November 2004 hidden in a lorry, was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a female under 16 in May 2008.

After serving his sentence, Saleh was recommended for deportation and detained under the 2007 Borders Act pending moves to send him back to Sudan because of the seriousness of his criminal offences.

But deputy High Court judge Philip Mott QC, speaking at the High Court, said Saleh had not been deported because it had been established that he was a member of the Zaghawa tribe, which was subject to widespread persecution and it was 'not possible' to return him to Sudan.

The details of Saleh's case were disclosed during a court hearing in which he attempted to claim damages for unlawful detention during the Government's failed bid to send him back to Sudan.

Judge Mott rejected his application and ruled there was no evidence of him being held unlawfully or unreasonably  and said his case failed 'on all grounds'.

The judge ruled that the refusal to release him earlier on bail pending a final decision on whether or not he could be deported was reasonable, given the nature of his offences.

He said: 'It was deliberate, targeted abuse of a young and vulnerable girl.  'The risk that the claimant, in his early 20s, would commit a further sexual offence if released on a precarious basis at risk of return to Sudan had to be considered as substantial.'

The judge rejected submissions that Saleh, now of Leicester, could have been released because bail conditions and the requirements of him being on the Sex Offenders' Register would have provided safeguards.

The judge ruled: 'The experience of the criminal courts is that these have a very limited ability to prevent or deter re-offending.'

Saleh was one of a group of five immigrants convicted of luring schoolgirls to a house for sex, two of whom were aged 13 and one 14, and unprotected intercourse took place.

Saleh was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and he was sentenced on the basis that they were planned offences and he knew the girl's age.

The trial judge had remarked that all three girls were "clearly disturbed and vulnerable, far from mature for their years and had been targeted by the group".

After smuggling his way into the country, Saleh's application for asylum was initially refused in January 2005 because he was a minor, he was granted discretionary leave to remain in the country until his 18th birthday in October 2006.

Later he applied for permission to stay in the country longer. But in May 2007 he was arrested and charged with the sex offences.


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