Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Challenging the People Traffickers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Challenging the People Traffickers

Article excerpt

DAVID BLUNKETT is understandably exasperated by the Government's failure to stem the flow of bogus asylum-seekers into Britain. His best efforts to winnow out genuine asylum-seekers from illegal economic migrants tend to be frustrated by bureaucratic muddle or by legal challenges supported by influential Labourites who think that any attempt to keep out the huddled masses of the world's poor smacks of racism. Meanwhile more asylum-seekers are coming to Britain than to any other industrialised country: a rise of 10 per cent to 51,500 in the first six months of this year compared to a fall of 12 per cent in the rest of the industrialised world. Between 10 and 20 per cent of applications tend to be accepted, but each year about 90 per cent of applicants manage to stay in Britain anyway - since once immigrants claim asylum, police and immigration officers have no choice but to direct them to the nearest reception centre, whereupon many of them go to ground. The thrust of Mr Blunkett's latest measures, which will be tagged on to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, is aimed at removing abuses in the existing system. The two-thirds of asylum-seekers who apply from inside the UK will receive benefits if they can show they are eligible for support (in the same way as UK citizens) and if they are prepared to give credible details about their circumstances and route of entry. Many illegal entrants, in other words, would have to choose between losing payments and welshing on the traffickers who smuggled them into the UK. These measures may meet with more success than some of the Home Secretary's wilder proposals, such as special ID cards. They show him to be inclining towards the policies taken by Denmark, which by restricting full access to Danish state welfare to people who have lived in the country for seven years or more has almost halved the number of asylum-seekers within six months. If Mr Blunkett succeeds in curbing illegal immigration, it will greatly help his schemes to encourage genuine asylumseekers and immigrants with needed skills into the UK.

He deserves support.

Fudging through

THE LATEST threat to the peace process in Northern Ireland is the allegation that Sinn Fein and the IRA have had spies at the heart of government in the province and on the mainland. …

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