INDEPENDENT NEWS

UK Borders Bill Gains Royal Assent

Published: Wed 31 Oct 2007 09:38 AM
UK borders bill gains Royal assent
Immigration officers received tough new powers to protect the border and tackle immigration crime when the UK Borders Bill received Royal Assent today.
This is the latest step in the Government's shake up of the Border and Immigration Agency, which will see the most far reaching changes to the immigration system in the past 40 years, introduced over the next 12 months.
The UK Borders Act increases the powers the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) has to build stronger borders, tackle organised crime and remove incentives for illegal immigrants wanting to come to Britain.
The Act also ensures that from 2008 ID cards will be introduced for foreign nationals subject to immigration control. This is a crucial step in fighting illegal immigration, enabling those here legally to prove it and prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain.
The UK Borders Act:
* introduces compulsory ID Cards for foreign nationals which will help tackle fraud, illegal working and multiple identity;
* provides new powers to immigration officers allowing them to detain at ports in England, Wales and Northern Ireland individuals they suspect of having committed a crime, to arrest those they believe to have fraudulently been acquiring asylum support and to access Her Majesty's Revenue Customs (HMRC) data to track down illegal immigrants;
* extends powers to enable the prosecution of those who facilitate or traffic from abroad, even if their crimes were committed outside of the UK;
* allows automatic consideration for deportation of foreign national prisoners - sending out a clear message that those who abuse the hospitality of the United Kingdom by committing serious crimes will not be tolerated;
* introduces a Code of Practice to keep Children Safe from Harm which the Border and Immigration Agency will have regard to when dealing with children and
* establishes a Chief Inspector for the BIA, to oversee the new Agency.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:
"The UK Borders Act will be a big step forward in giving our frontline forces the powers they need to strengthen our borders and shut down the illegal jobs that we know cause illegal journeys.
"The introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals will help secure a triple ring of security, which starts with biometric visas identifying individuals before they travel to the UK, through checking of individuals at the border and ID cards for foreign nationals ensuring that those not legally allowed to enter the UK are not able to access the benefits of Britain."
The passage of the UK Borders Act follows major steps already taken by the Government to strengthen the UK border. They include: the introduction of biometric visas, already rolled out in 106 countries around the world, which have led to 7,300 individuals successfully being matched to applicants known to the immigration authoriteis; the introduction of a network of airline liaison officers who have stopped 180,000 people boarding planes bound for Britain in 2006 and the rollout of checks against passengers entering and leaving the UK which has generated 15,000 alerts and over 1,200 arrests since 2005.
ENDS
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