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A committee of MPs says the UK's immigration statistics are 'not fit for purpose'. In 2010 the government promised to cut net annual immigration to below 100,000 by 2015. It claims already to have cut the figure from 260,000 to 150,000 per year but the MPs say this figure could be out by ‘tens of thousands' in either direction.
The MPs have urged the government to introduce the ‘e-borders’ system as quickly as possible. E-borders is an electronic system which would count people entering and leaving the UK. The project was started in 2007 and has been repeatedly delayed. The Home Secretary said recently that it would not be ready until at least 2016.
Senior US Republicans have criticised one of their colleagues for claiming that many Mexican illegal immigrants are drug smugglers. Representative Steve King of Iowa, a prominent opponent of US immigration reform, said that many Mexican children frequently carried sacks of marijuana across the desert to the US. The speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, called the comments ‘hateful’ and ‘ignorant’ But Mr King has refused to apologise and claims that, in private, many Republicans agree with him.
A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has voiced concern at a UK government plan to make Indian nationals pay a bond before receiving a UK visitor visa. From November, people considered likely to overstay their visas will have to pay a bond of up to £3,000. It will only be repaid when the visa holder leaves the country. FICCI said it hoped business travellers would be exempt and warned that the scheme could prevent Indian companies from investing in the UK.
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The chief executive of London business association London First has criticised the UK government's 'ill-considered' immigration policy. Baroness Valentine criticised the proposals to introduce £3,000 security bonds for some visitors from six ‘high risk’ countries including India, Pakistan and Nigeria. She said this was ‘Perhaps the most ill-considered development in immigration policy yet' She also criticised plans to make foreign residents pay an annual levy to contribute to their health care and a recent advertising campaign urging illegal immigrants to ‘go home’.
The baroness says that these and other policies risk damaging London's economy. She says that the UK needs to attract talented workers, entrepreneurs, students and high spending tourists. She added that current policies are ‘bad for business'.
A Russian politician has accused two American pop stars, Lady Gaga and Madonna, of breaching Russian visa rules. Vitaly Milonov, a member of the St Petersburg assembly, claims that the two stars earned money from concerts in St Petersburg while in Russia on cultural visas which did not permit paid work. Mr Milonov says Madonna made $1.1m from a concert in August 2012. He says that Lady Gaga earned money from a concert in December 2012.
Mr Milonov seems to be motivated by an anti-gay agenda. Both Lady Gaga and Madonna, who have many gay fans, are also accused of breaching Russian law by advocating gay rights on stage in St Petersburg. Mr Milonov is a vocal opponent of homosexuality.
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