Law mooted to allow illegal immigrants to buy freedom

July 15th, 2008 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 15 (IANS) Illegal immigrants awaiting deportation may now post a bail to avoid detention centres as part of an exhaustive immigration bill under consideration of the British government. The proposed legislation may provide for such immigrants to post a self bond of around 60 pounds ($120). The bond scheme can be availed only by those the government feels have a low risk of absconding.

This is aimed at easing the pressure on detention centres. As against the 2,500-odd illegal immigrants in such centres, more than half a million are said to be living in Britain illegally.

The bill may have another provision to free detained illegal immigrants by issuing electronic tags in order to keep track of them. What is the guarantee they will not throw away the tags and disappear again, critics ask.

The bill also sets out plans for ‘fast-track’ British passports to be handed to tens of thousands of immigrants every year in return for voluntary work. Foreigners will be able to cut up to two years off the time it takes to win citizenship by taking part in community work, charity fund-raising, working as a school governor or running a children’s sports team.

They will be required to learn English and will no longer be allowed to stay indefinitely without seeking citizenship. The number of citizenship applications is expected to rise from a record 160,000 a year to 250,000. There is also a plan to station British immigration officers at airports around the world to stop illegal immigrants boarding flights.

The Daily Mail quoted Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as saying: “In recent months we have listened to people across Britain and the message is clear - they want those who want to make Britain their home to speak English, to work hard and to earn the right to stay here.”

Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green dismissed the draft bill as a “collection of old ideas”.

“This is the ninth immigration bill in 11 years. If passing laws secured our borders, they would be the safest in the world,” Green said.

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