On Friday 12th April 2002, The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, publisheda package of measures to crack down on illegal immigrants to the UK and on UKemployers who hire workers illegally.
Powers to stop illegal working will be strengthened in the Nationality,Immigration and Asylum bill. They include measures to "compel"employers hiring cash-in-hand workers to cooperate.
Immigration officers will have new powers to enter businesses to search forillegal immigrants and demand information to detect asylum fraud. The officerswill be empowered to remove children born in the UK when their parents enteredthe country unlawfully.
Another tough move will see the maximum jail term for those convicted ofharbouring or trafficking illegal immigrants rise from six months to 14 years.
In a bid to strengthen Britain's borders, travel operators such as airlineswill face a new "right to carry" scheme, where they will have toobtain clearance for passengers before they begin their journeys.
Carriers will be obliged to check passengers' details against a database toconfirm they pose no known immigration or security risk.
The bill says immigration officers will eventually use high-tech"physical recognition equipment" - such as iris scans - to targetimmigration offenders or suspected security threats before they set out for theUK.
The Home Office also announced that a new project at Dover, entitledOperation Hornet, was beginning today using new technology known as Borderguardto help detect forged papers.
The system will help catch people who try to get into the country ondifferent occasions using false identities.
Today's document is designed to boost the public's confidence in the bordercontrols which have been spectacularly breached on so many occasions in recentmonths, particularly through the Channel tunnel.
There will also be legislation to cut short the ploys used by failed asylumseekers and their lawyers to stay in the country as long as possible, a HomeOffice spokesman announced.
For example, applicants will no longer be able to appeal the direction ordersgiven to remove them from the UK, and there will be moves to stop "multipletime-wasting adjournments".
“We will cut down the endless opportunities for judicial review," headded.
The government was portraying the bill as a way of "plugging theloopholes" in the existing asylum and immigration system to make itfunction better, rather than creating a new system from scratch.
Mr Blunkett said: "Our asylum process must be efficient, fast andtrusted by the British people.
"This is not about creating 'fortress Britain'. We are an open, tradingnation, and we will continue to meet our obligations - along with the rest ofthe international community - to provide a safe haven to people fleeingpersecution. But we will not be seen as a soft touch."
He added: "We have a responsibility to asylum seekers, to consider theirclaim fairly and quickly and to support them during the process, but they inturn have a responsibility toward us. "I am equally determined thatwould-be illegal immigrants get the message that we are tightening our rules anddeploying every possible measure to deter and to detect them."
Other points in the bill, some of which were mooted in a white paper inFebruary, include: Making it easier to tackle fraud by requiring banks,employers and public authorities to share information about suspected illegalentrants with the immigration officers.
- Making it an offence to unlawfully possess immigration stamps or to falsify asylum application registration cards.
- Increasing the penalty for illegal people trafficking from 10 to 14 years.
- Creating a new tiered system of accommodation centres to house thousands of asylum seekers.
- Introducing a "citizenship pledge" ceremony in which immigrants would have to swear allegiance to the monarch and to uphold Britain's laws and democratic values.
- Making it compulsory to learn English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic for those who wanted to apply for citizenship.
- Introducing a new offence of trafficking people for prostitution to clamp down on the exploitation of vulnerable people, which will carry a maximum 14 year term.
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