Sunday, March 24, 2013

British Liberal leader swipes Tory ideas to talk tough on migration: Deputy PM will use speech to talk of a 'tolerant Britain'

An attempt by Nick Clegg to toughen his position on immigration ran into trouble last night as he was accused of stealing Conservative ideas and Vince Cable ridiculed the idea of cutting the number of incomers to the tens of thousands.

The Deputy Prime Minister will today  use his first speech on immigration since the general election in 2010 to set out a vision of a ‘tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse’.

He will insist that if immigrant workers suddenly ‘downed tools, countless businesses and services would suffer’ and the NHS ‘would fall over’ - but insist borders were ‘grossly mismanaged’ under Labour.

Mr Clegg will say that cash penalties for unscrupulous employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants because they are cheaper are to be increased. Currently, the maximum fine is £10,000 per illegal worker.

He will also claim that he has ‘asked the Home Secretary’ to examine the idea of forcing incomers to put up a cash bond if they want to come to Britain.

They will be required to pay the money as part of a guarantee that they will not be a burden on the taxpayer and will leave the country when their visa expires.

The Daily Mail revealed in March that Home Secretary Theresa May was planning immigration bonds as the next stage of reform, having succeeded in cutting net migration to its lowest level for a decade.

The cash would only be repaid when people leave the country and demonstrate that they have not drawn on particular services, such as non-urgent NHS care or elements of the welfare state.

Mrs May plans to announce a pilot scheme targeted at ‘high risk’ individuals from ‘two or three nationalities’ starting later this year. They or family members already in the UK would be required to put up a sum running into thousands of pounds as security that they will abide by the rules.

Prime Minister David Cameron also floated the idea of immigration bonds and Theresa May plans to announce a pilot scheme targeted at 'high risk' individuals

The 1999 Immigration & Asylum Act allows the UK to require a financial security from temporary migrants, which can be forfeited if they fail to leave the UK after the expiry of their visa.

Prime Minister David Cameron also floated the idea of immigration bonds last year. One Tory source said Mr Clegg appeared to be ‘purloining Conservative ideas’ in an attempt to shift perceptions of his party’s position on a key issue.

In another blow, Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable gave an interview pouring scorn on the Conservative aim of reducing net immigration from the hundreds to the tens of thousands.

‘It isn’t Government policy, it is Conservative policy. And it’s also not true because that policy purely relates to non-EU people. We have obviously no control over the European Union and that is actually where much of the movement comes,’ Mr Cable told The House magazine.

‘The reducing to under 100,000 is not Government policy and it would be unattainable without, if it was attainable enormous damage would be done, notably through overseas students, which is one of the biggest components.’

The Business Secretary said attempts to tighten the visa system had created the impression, particularly in India, that ‘Britain is closed’.

Mr Clegg praised the diversity of the country's population and says that Britain is made up of rich and varied backgrounds

‘We want overseas students, they are good for us, they are not bad for us. They bring in lots of money. We want to have lots of visitors from all over the world coming here without hassle, an easy flexible visa system and we have lots of highly specialised people in engineers, top managers who we need in our companies and they’ve got to be able to come and go freely otherwise we are not going to be able to compete internationally,’ Mr Cable added.

‘So I do have to keep banging the drum for that.’

Mr Clegg will insist today that the Lib Dems ‘will never seek to outflank our opponents’ on immigration ‘because we think that’s what people want to hear’.

‘That kind of low populism patronises the British people. And it is an insult to the many migrants who have contributed to our country,’ he will say.

‘British society has been shaped by migrant communities in ways more profound than any cliché about chicken tikka masala, or Notting Hill Carnival, or Polish builders can ever express. I’m the son of a Dutch mother - she, herself, raised in Indonesia; a half-Russian father; husband to a Spanish wife. Like millions of Brits, if you trace our blood lines back through the generations, you end up travelling around the globe.’ But he will savage Labour for leaving an immigration system in ‘disarray’.

‘I cannot stress enough just how chaotic it was. The first thing they did, after coming into office, was stop checking if people were leaving the country. They got rid of exit checks. They weren’t counting people in and they weren’t counting people out either,’ the Deputy Prime Minister will add.

‘Since we came into government, net migration has fallen by a third. We’ve capped immigration from outside Europe. And within the EU, we have kept the transitional limits on Romania and Bulgaria, until the point where every member state has to remove them.

‘One idea which appeals to me is a system of security bonds. And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it, with a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.

‘The basic premise is simple: in certain cases, when a visa applicant is coming from a high risk country, in addition to satisfying the normal criteria, UKBA would be able to request a deposit - a kind of cash guarantee. Once the visitor leaves Britain, the bond will be repaid.’

A Home Office source said: ‘We look forward to support for all our immigration policies and getting down to the tens of thousands.’


Australia:  Afghans lead 37% rise in asylum seeker claims

Just what Australia needs:  A whole  swag of illiterate and aggressive Muslims

The number of people arriving in Australia to claim asylum jumped by more than a third last year, driven by an increase in arrivals from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last year 15,800 people claimed asylum in Australia, up 37 per cent from 2011. Afghan nationals (3079) and Sri Lankans (2345) accounted for more than a third of asylum seekers to reach Australian shores.

The increase in the number of Sri Lankans travelling to Australia by boat attracted intense public and political interest last year.

The number of Sri Lankans - mainly young Tamil men, but also Sinhalese, Muslims and small numbers of women and children - to make an asylum claim in Australia jumped from 371 in 2011 to 2345 last year (a rise of 630 per cent, but from a low base), figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show.

The agency's numbers do not include those who arrived by boat after August 13 last year, when Australia restarted offshore processing and, according to the UNHCR, ''have not yet entered a refugee determination process, or been able to lodge a formal claim for protection''.

The number of Sri Lankans who arrived ''irregularly'' by boat on Australian shores increased by a far greater amount last year, from 211 to 6428.

Continued insecurity across Afghanistan and uncertainty over that country's future post-2014 saw the number of Afghan nationals applying for asylum jump 79 per cent to 3079.

And the number of Pakistani asylum seekers reached 1512 last year, up 84 per cent from 2011.

Australia's asylum seeker numbers, while politically sensitive, remain numerically small. Australia receives about 3 per cent of the total asylum claims made in industrialised countries around the world.

The UNHCR noted in its report: ''By comparison, asylum levels in Australia continue to remain below those recorded by many other industrialised and non-industrialised countries.''

Nearly half a million - 493,000 - asylum claims were lodged in industrialised countries last year, the second highest number on record after 2003.

Europe received 355,000 asylum seeker claims, while North America had 103,000. War, civil strife, political repression and sectarian violence continue to force movements of populations across borders.

In particular, conflict in Syria has prompted a new mass wave of refugees fleeing that country.

Afghanistan continues to provide the most asylum seekers of any country in the world, with 36,600 last year, followed by the Syrian Arab Republic, Serbia, China and Pakistan.

''Wars are driving more and more people to seek asylum,'' the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said. ''At a time of conflict, I urge countries to keep their borders open for people fleeing for their lives.''

And while the latest UNHCR figures deal with asylum claims to industrialised countries, more than 80 per cent of refugees live in developing countries.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has previously called for greater equity in assisting displaced people.

''The burden of helping the world's forcibly displaced people is starkly uneven,'' he said. ''Poor countries host vastly more displaced people than wealthier ones. While anti-refugee sentiment is heard loudest in industrialised countries, developing nations host 80 per cent of the world's refugees.''

Afghanistan alone has a diaspora of more than 2.7 million refugees across 71 countries, but more than 95 per cent are in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.


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