Woolas Admits Even His Children Have Suffered From Immigration

(Telegraph) – PHIL WOOLAS, the immigration minister, has admitted even his own children and family have “suffered” because of the impacts of his Government’s immigration policies.

Mr Woolas, who has two boys of school age, accepted that the sudden influx of large numbers of people had had an effect on communities after being confronted by an unemployed man on BBC’s Newsnight.

He went on to admit: “My own family, my children, have suffered from that and we recognise that point …”

Asked what he meant, he added only: “Well, if you get, as the gentleman says, if you get a big influx of people coming into an area, Slough Council, Peterborough Council, have raised this point, that is the price you pay.”

He refused to expand on his comments yesterday and it remains unclear whether he means his children have suffered as a result of pressure on schools or communities in general.

He is the latest Labour minister to accept immigration has impacted on towns and cities but

In December, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said immigration had “cost” parts of Britain, impacting on jobs, wages and even family ties.

That came a week after Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said the Government had been inept over immigration, which had impacted on communities.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “There is no question that immigration has put huge pressure on our public services. How can a Minister defend a policy that he admits his own family has suffered from?”

Foreigners Granted Citizenship At Record High

(Telegraph) – THE NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS being handed a British passport has hit record levels fuelling claims of an open door on immigration.

A total of 203,865 people were granted British citizenship last year – the equivalent of one every three minutes and a 58 per cent jump on the previous year.

Almost another 200,000 migrants were granted settlement after a 30 per cent rise meaning they can stay indefinitely but are not British citizens.

The sharp rise in citizenship will in part have been due to migrants rushing applications in ahead of new rules next year that will make it harder and longer to earn a British passport.

But it will also be seen as a result of Labour’s relaxed immigration policies over the last decade just two weeks after the Government was accused of pursuing a secret policy of encouraging mass immigration for its own political ends.

The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labour’s migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the country’s economic needs, but also the Government’s “social objectives”.

It is the first time annual grants of citizenship have past the 200,000 mark and it dwarfs the previous high of 164,635 in 2007.

It is also more than five times the 37,010 approvals in 1997 when Labour took power and means more than 1.5 million foreigners have been handed a British passport in the intervening period.

In 2008, Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, said those who settle here should apply for citizenship rather than ‘languish in limbo’ by living here but not adapting to the British way of life.

Next summer a new regime of “probationary citizenship” comes in to effect which means migrants may have to be in the country for up to eight years before being granted a passport, instead of the current five years. They will also have to accrue points under the new system by demonstrating they are of benefit or active in the community or have skills it needs.

Of the separate grants of settlement, those linked to jobs rose from 37,000 in 2007 to more than 60,000 in 2008 and 81,000 last year – despite the recession.

The quarterly immigration figures published by the Office for National Statistics, also showed a 30 per cent increase in student visa numbers last year compared to 2008.

In the final three months of 2009, 61,715 student visas were issued – an astonishing rise of 92 per cent on the same period in 2008 – while throughout the year a record 273,610 student visas were issued.

The figures will renew questions over the regime, which critics claim is being abused by illegal immigrants, criminals and potential terrorists.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “These are the last immigration figures before a General Election and it is now clear that immigration has been running out of control throughout the lifetime of this Government.

“Even in a recession with more than two million unemployed the number of work visas issued is going up. So much for British jobs for British workers.”

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “Public confidence and trust in the migration system has been shattered by decades of mismanagement.”

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “Asylum applications for the last three months of 2009 were the lowest since the early 1990s.

“Net migration is down, and the new UK Border Agency is increasingly successful.”

“Our border has never been stronger, as shown by the fall in the number of asylum applications.

“Our new flexible points-based system also gives us greater control over those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come.”

1.3M NHI Numbers Given To Foreign Workers Since PM’s ‘British jobs for British workers’ Pledge

(Telegraph) – MORE THAN 1.3 million national insurance numbers have been given to foreign workers in the two years since Gordon Brown’s controversial “British Jobs for British Workers” pledge.

Between July 2007 and June 2009, 1,370,820 NI numbers were allocated to foreign workers , the Department of Work and Pensions figures disclosed.

This was despite the country being mired in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Critics said the figures, obtained by the Tories, were part of mounting evidence that Mr Brown had failed to protect the jobs of British workers over foreign nationals.

Shortly before taking office in the summer of 2007, Mr Brown made the commitment, which was then repeated during his first party conference speech in September that year.

“This is yet another example of the chaos within the immigration system,” Baroness Warsi, the Tory communities spokeswoman, said.

“These figures show that all the tough talk about protecting British jobs was just hot air.

“We can’t go on like this. We must bring immigration under control, and improve the education and training of British workers.”

National Insurance numbers can be issued for a number of reasons.

They are needed to work legally in the UK – but are also required to claim benefits.

Whitehall figures show the number of foreign-born workers has risen by 22,000 while at the same time, the number of British-born employees has slumped by 625,000.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas told the Daily Express: “We recognise the benefit to our economy and culture from immigration.

“We’re also very clear that it needs to be controlled.”

Work and Pensions Minister Angela Eagle added: “These national insurance numbers include people coming to study and to do part-time work, and many have subsequently returned home.”

Failure To Deport Foreign Criminals Costing £60m A Year

(Telegraph) – ONE IN THREE detainees held in immigration centres are now foreign offenders who have finished a jail term but have still not been removed from the country.

In the case of 250 of them it is now more than a year since they ended their sentences but they are still here – at the public’s expense.

The figures make a mockery of Gordon Brown’s pledge, shortly after becoming Prime Minister, that overseas criminals would be deported.

In any one month there are 1,250 former foreign prisoners in an immigration detention estate of around 3,000, which also hold failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

Holding someone in such a facility costs £47,500 a year – some £10,000 more than a prison place – meaning the failure to quickly remove foreign offenders is costing the public some £59.3 million a year.

In July 2007, Mr Brown warned such offenders that “if you commit a crime you will be deported. You play by the rules or you face the consequences”.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “Every time this Government makes a promise to improve the immigration system it lets us down.

“Gordon Brown promised “automatic deportation” of foreign criminals, but we have over a thousand of them locked up very expensively in centres not designed to hold hardened criminals, many for over a year.

“This is not only a waste of our money, it is dangerous. The riots and fires we have seen at detention centres in recent years often come about because criminals become the dominant group inside the centre. Ministers try to talk tough on immigration, but they are still, after all this time, acting weakly.”

Phil Woolas, the immigration minster, said: “We have made it clear that those who come to the UK and break the rules will not be tolerated. That is why we are removing more foreign criminals than ever before, including a record 5,400 in 2008. Detention is crucial in enforcing removal and protecting the public.”

It emerged last week that more than 100 illegal migrants and foreign prisoners who escaped from removal centres in the last four years are still at large in Britain.

Students Who Break Visa Rules Can Stay In The UK

(Telegraph) – JUDGES ARE UNDERMINING Britain’s immigration controls by allowing students who have flagrantly breached the rules to remain in the country, it can be revealed.

Home Office efforts to prevent foreign students from extending their visas have been overturned by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) even when the immigrants have broken the rules by setting up businesses on the side or working for more hours than they are permitted.

In one case, a female student from Uganda was allowed to carry on studying in Britain even though she had repeatedly failed her examinations with scores as low as 31 per cent, after she told a judge that her poor marks were due in part to her suffering from scabies, the skin condition.

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said he was “disappointed” by the tribunal’s rulings.

Student visas are already seen as the weakest link in the immigration system.

The Conservatives have pledged wide-ranging reform if they win the next general election, including forcing some students to pay a bond of up to £2,000 a year which would only be handed back when they complete their course and leave the country.

It comes after revelations about how the AIT allowed Iraqi killer Laith Alani, who has served 19 years in secure hospitals after he stabbed two NHS consultants to death, to remain in the country after his release because he might pose a danger to people in his homeland if deported.

Other dangerous foreign criminals have been allowed to stay in Britain on human rights grounds.

In a new visa case uncovered by this newspaper, a 29-year-old Ghanaian student at the University of Sunderland was caught working as a security guard for more than the permitted 20 hours a week and the Home Office refused his application to remain in Britain.

But he appealed to the AIT, which ruled last September that deporting him would breach his human rights.

Peter Lane, a senior immigration judge, said in his ruling: “The public interest in maintaining an effective immigration control, whilst important, is not a fixity.

“It could well be said that respect for such a system is diminished by permitting the (Home Office’s) decision in the present case to stand.”

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “It is alarming to find that individual judges do not see it as part of their role to enforce immigration controls.

“The all-pervading lack of confidence in the enforcement of immigration rules is only encouraged by this kind of decision.

“The key is to set immigration rules as clearly as possible so that they cannot be weakened by individual court judgements.”

In another case a 32-year-old Turkish man who came to Britain as a student was found by the Home Office to have set up a business, and officials refused his application for further leave to remain in the country as a self-employed person.

The appeal hearing, which also took place last September, was told: “One of the conditions of the appellant’s leave to remain as a student was that he must not engage in business and he was therefore in breach of the conditions of his leave.”

Yet the AIT overruled the Home Office’s decision and ordered that the Turkish café owner should be allowed to remain here.

Another case, heard in November, concerned an Indian student who arrived in Britain in 2007 and applied to extend his visa so he could complete his accounting examinations.

He admitted that he had worked more than 20 hours a week during the summer of 2008 and in February 2009.

Peter Moulden, a senior immigration judge, ruled: “Having worked in breach of conditions is a factor which needs to be taken into account in judging an appellant’s future intentions but it is not of itself conclusive against him.”

The student’s appeal was granted by the AIT, and the Home Office was ordered to reconsider its decision.

The Ugandan student, 30, was refused permission to extend her student visa because she had failed to prove she was making satisfactory progress in her course, as required by the Home Office.

The accounting student had switched colleges and had failed three modules of her course three times each. Two other modules had both been failed twice.

A Home Office lawyer argued that her academic progress had been “painfully slow”.

The student, who was not named, showed the AIT a letter from the NHS confirming an appointment with a dermatology clinic and said suffering scabies had affected her studies.

Kate Eshun, a senior immigration judge, said: “I am prepared to accept that the combination of the scabies and her unsettled immigration status could have affected her progress.

“The appellant is due to take exams in December 2009. She ought to be given a chance to at least prove that she has the ability to pass her exams. It is on that basis that I allow the appellant’s appeal.”

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, the pressure group, said: “There is a growing understanding, except among the judges, that immigration control is now essential to the future development of our society.

“Decisions of this kind seriously undermine it and render the student route a conveyor belt to permanent residency in Britain.

“With 250,000 students admitted every year from outside the European Union we simply cannot afford to have conditions which have been voluntarily accepted by the students undermined in this extraordinary way.”

Mr Woolas said: “The UK Border Agency vigorously opposes any appeal against our decision to revoke a visa. We are disappointed with the court decisions in these cases.

“We expect all those who come to work or study in the UK to comply with the conditions of their visas. Where we find that they are in breach of these conditions we will take action.”

A spokeswoman for the Tribunals Service said: “AIT judges are independent members of the judiciary who make their decisions based on the evidence provided to them, applying the current law to the facts as they find them.

“If either party believes the tribunals has made an error in its decision, they can apply initially to have the decision reconsidered by the tribunal, or apply to the Administrative Court, and onwards to the Court of Appeal.”

Foreign Prisoners Handed £500 Cash Cards To Go Home

(Telegraph) – FOREIGN MURDERERS, rapists and other criminals are being handed £500 “cash cards” as part of a bribe for them to go home.

More than 2,000 foreign prisoners have been handed the money in the last two years in a desperate bid to clear Britain’s overcrowded jails.

Some prisoners are given the money even though they are also freed from their jail terms up to nine months early.

They can spend it on anything they wish once they have returned home and is part of a package worth up to £5,000 each.

It means the taxpayer has funded more than £1 million alone just to give overseas criminals who have preyed on Britons cash in their hand.

One of those was a Malaysian migrant who killed a 17-month-old baby.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “This is simply outrageous. It is bad enough that Gordon Brown lost control of our borders and has let thousands of foreign criminals into the country.

“Now we learn that foreign prisoners are being given cash cards loaded with hundreds of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The lesson is clear: under Labour, crime pays and the taxpayer foots the bill.”

The cash cards are part of the so-called Facilitated Returns Scheme which was launched in October 2006 and encourages overseas offenders to return to their home country once they have passed the point they would be released if British.

It is aimed at preventing lengthy and expensive legal battles against deportation and can see inmates given resettlement packages worth up to £5,000, with most coming in the form of “in kind” support.

One in four of the foreign criminals who was deported last year only went home after being offered a voluntary return package — a 60 per cent increase in such agreements in one year.

In total 2,200 prisoners have taken advantage of the package in the last two years meaning £1.1 million of public money has been spent just on providing cash cards to encourage offenders who have no right to be in Britain to leave, including £1.1 million in cash.

The overall bill, including the full packages, runs to several million pounds.

Under a separate early removal scheme, foreign prisoners can be freed up to 270 days in advance of their release date so long as they are willing to return home and can still take up the returns packages.

The cash element was quietly introduced by the Home Office in October.

The cards can be used as Visa chip and pin meaning the prisoners could feasibly even buy duty free on the plane home.

However, a Home Office spokesman insisted most deportees are returned on charter flights where such services do not exist.

“Every day that we can get these individuals out of the country early saves taxpayers over £100 a night in detention costs. Last year we removed a record 5,400 foreign national prisoners.”

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s a disgrace that we bribe foreign criminals to go home at all, they should be deported immediately. The fact that we also give them a hefty cash bonus to spend as they wish will rightly anger the law-abiding taxpayers who are footing the bill for this hare-brained scheme.

“The Government’s attitude to foreign criminals has been far too much carrot and not nearly enough stick, and this sort of treatment is financially and morally unjustifiable at a time when ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet.”

There are just under 12,000 foreign prisoners in jails in England and Wales, making up one in seven of the population behind bars.

One of those to have taken up the returns package is Malaysian Agnes Wong, 29, who was jailed for five years in 2008 for the manslaughter of toddler Hugo Wang she was supposed to be child-minding.

She was released in July this year, having served the minimum jail term of two-and-half years, including her time spent on remand, and put on a plane home with a returns package worth £4,500.

Phil Woolas, the Border and Immigration minister, said: “Our Facilitated Returns Scheme saves the taxpayer money because foreign criminals are removed direct from jail or immigration detention, often before their sentence ends.

“This means foreign lawbreakers cannot drag out the removal process for months with frivolous appeals which clog up the legal system.”

Record Level Of British Population Is Foreign Born

(Telegraph) – MORE THAN ONE IN TEN PEOPLE living in Britain today were born abroad, a record level, new figures show.

The proportion of the population who are foreign-born has almost doubled in the past two decades to 11 per cent, or 6.7 million people.

One of the key factors behind Britain’s population increase has been the flow of migrant workers from Poland, Lithuania and six other Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004.

At the same time, the percentage of children being born to foreign mothers has also reached new levels, reported Jil Matheson, the national statistician.

The Office for National Statistics figures showed that in 2008 some 11 per cent of the population were born abroad, up from around 8 per cent in 2001 and 6.7 per cent in 1991. Figures are not available for 1997 when Labour came to power but, based on trends, is likely to have been just over 7 per cent.

Britain’s population is on course to pass 70 million in around two decades, Ms Matheson warned. She said projections based on past demographic trends suggest a 17 per cent increase in population over the next 25 years to hit 71.6 million by 2033.

It currently stands at 61.4 million and ministers have insisted the landmark total will not be reached.

The figures are likely to fuel recent claims by a former Government adviser that Labour deliberately ran an open-door policy on immigration to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and both his Conservative and Liberal Democrat counterparts will today stage a key debate on immigration.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “This Government has never had any control over immigration numbers. Some Government insiders have said this was a deliberate plot, others claim it was just a mistake.

“Either way they have left our borders unprotected. It is one of the biggest policy failures of the Labour years.”

The number of Eastern European nationals that are resident in Britain has risen sharply from 114,000 in 2001 to 689,000 last year. More than a tenth of them are children.

Immigration is having a double impact on population numbers because as well as those arriving in the country, the proportion of children born here to foreign mothers has also hit a new high.

Some 24 per cent of the births in England and Wales last year – or 170,834 – were to mothers born outside the country, the highest level since records began in 1969.

That is double the 12 per cent in 1990 and the proportion has increased year on year since, according to the Population Trends report, produced by the ONS.

In England alone, the proportion is now as high as 25 per cent.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “The proportion of foreign born people in Britain has almost doubled in 20 years. This is a measure of the way in which our society is being changed without the British public ever having been consulted.

“Immigration on this scale can only add to the strains in our society and the pressure on our public services.”

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “It is difficult for anyone to accurately forecast the population now, let alone in 30 years, after Labour and the Tories abandoned exit checks.

“We cannot know how many people live here if we do not count people out as well as in.”

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “These population projections do not take into account the impact of future government policies or those Eastern Europeans who came here, contributed, and are now going home.

“Projections are uncertain. For instance in the 1960s they said our population would reach 76 million by the year 2000, this was off target by 16 million.

“And let’s be clear the category ‘foreign born mothers’ includes British people born overseas – such as children whose parents are in the armed forces or those who come to Britain at a very early age.

“Overall, net-migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.”

In October, Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, claimed that the sharp increase in migrants over the past 10 years was partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to boost multiculturalism.

He said Labour’s relaxation of controls in 2000-01 was a deliberate plan to “open up the UK to mass migration”, but ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working-class vote”.

It centred on early drafts of a Cabinet Office report in 2000, which allegedly also had passages of possible links between immigration and crime deleted before it was published.

Cabinet ministers have denied any suggestions of “secret plots”.