Asylum Seekers to Get Homes; IMMIGRATION: Policy Reform Urged Enabling Employment for Some

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Byline: ROBIN TURNER

LOCAL authorities are about to sign a deal with the Home Office to make available 700 properties to house more than 1,000 asylum seekers to add to the 1,000 places being made available in Cardiff.

The news that the 21 Welsh councils outside Cardiff are making decisions on where they can house asylum seekers, comes as the Scottish Parliament appointed an Asylum Minister in the wake of the alleged murder of an asylum seeker in Glasgow's Sighthill district.

Pressure is also growing for David Blunkett to announce a reform of existing immigration policy reform which could see work permits for some asylum seekers.

Mr Blunkett, due to meet his French counterpart Daniel Valliant next week to discuss illegal crosschannel immigration said to be organised by "people-moving" gangs, says he wants to change the work permit system so the UK can deal with what he calls "sensible economic migration".

He has promised "rigorous and hard-headed" policies to send the right signals to those seeking asylum without proper cause.

He is thought to favour fingerprinting asylum seekers as they enter Britain to help build up a European database, which would be installed at key ports and airports.

In Wales the decisions on where the asylum seekers will go will be based on available housing, existing pockets of foreign nationals, the availability of translators or translation facilities and councils' ability to deal with an influx of new residents.

The 21 authorities must report to the All Wales Consortium on Asylum Seekers by September 20 with details of where and how many people they can take. …