NEW MIGRANTS LAWS WON'T STEM THE FLOOD
By Macer Hall
Friday January 16,2009
A tougher Home Office test for immigrants wanting to become British citizens will not stem the massive flow of newcomers into the country, critics warned last night.
Ministers yesterday unveiled details of measures designed to ensure new arrivals who want to settle in the UK earn the right to citizenship.
Applicants will be expected to demonstrate a command of the English language and undertake an explicit commitment to obey the law. They will also be able to speed up the process by undertaking voluntary work.
The measures were unveiled when Labour published its latest Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill yesterday.
But critics pointed out that it will do nothing to limit the overall numbers entering the country each year or prevent the population soaring to 70 million by 2028, as some have forecast.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: We need something quite specific an annual limit on economic immigration from outside the EU.
Until the Government recognises this, its immigration policy will continue to fail.
Labour MP Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, who co-chair the Commons Group on Balanced Migration, said the Bill would neither limit the soaring population nor ensure British-born unemployed got a fair chance on the jobs market.
In a statement the MPs echoed the Daily Expresss revelations this week that Labour plans to let in 130,000 non-EU jobseekers this year. despite lengthening dole queues.
They said: There are two litmus tests for immigration policy. First, it needs to tighten up immigration controls so that British unemployed people are given a fair crack at getting jobs.
Second, it needs to control immigration so that the UKs population does not hit 70 million in 2028. This Bill passes neither of these tests.
Can it be that the Government puts the interests of economic migrants before those of British workers and has scant regard for the impact that uncontrolled immigration will have on the fabric of our society?
Under the proposed new rules, those wishing to apply for citizenship will have to live in the UK for at least five years and will then spend an additional year proving they deserve citizenship.
They will be expected to show they can support themselves financially, pay tax and speak English. They will also be able to help their case through volunteer work.
Anyone found guilty of minor crimes will see their applications delayed and those jailed for serious crimes will face deportation.
Home Office Minister Phil Woolas said all citizenship applicants should speak English, work hard, and earn the right to stay here and only get citizenship once they have proved their commitment to the country.
The measures will also mean air and ferry passengers travelling between Ireland and Britain will face passport checks. Immigration controls do not now exist between the UK and Ireland.