Illegal Immigrants in Stratford Station, London
Another day in London with the UK's Border Agency.. as they watch people traveling to work they meet a suspicious looking man who turns out to be an illegal immigrant from Nigeria who doesn't seem to know his own date of birth.
On this particular morning, the Border Agency made seven arrests of illegal immigrants, including several from India and Pakistan. The fact immigration officers were able to just pull seven illegal immigrants off the street in one small area of London in a few hours is quite worrying and shows the scale of the problem.
Of the seven arrests, six were given temporary release but failed to report to back to the police station and are listed as absconders.
This is a common pattern you see over and over again when it comes to illegal immigrants. It illustrates clearly that our present immigrant controls are failing.
Here's how it's failing:
An illegal immigrant is picked up and denies having a passport. Without a passport they know they cannot be detained in prison and deported from the UK. Once arrested and charged with being an illegal immigrant, they are released by the police subject to their agreeing not to work and to report to the police station each week until their documents and passports are ready for them to be deported.
Naturally once they are released they are never seen again and they just move on to a different area. They have nothing to lose by absconding. Since these individuals don't legally exist here, they don't pay any taxes and often work illegally or get involved in crime, such as prostitution and drug dealing. Many go on to commit serious crimes, as they know at the end of the day they have little to lose since in a worse case scenario they get deported back to their own country.
How can we fix this problem?
The simple answer is to detain all illegal immigrants and fast track them for deportation. However the reality is there are over 5,000 illegal immigrants rounded up every year in London alone, and in 2008 67,980 nationwide, up 7% on the previous year. Out of those 67,980, just 3% (2,250) were detained and of those more than half were asylum seekers.
We simply don't have the space or resources to hold them all. Illegal immigrants can't be deported without passports as they would be refused entry to their country of origin. The procedure for getting passports for them involves the UK government making requests to their countries and the procedure often takes a year or more.
Clearly this requires a more coordinated and efficient international approach to dealing with moving illegal immigrants back to their countries.
If prison space is not available for detaining them, perhaps they could be detained under house arrest using the electronic tagging system used for ordinary criminals. At least this would allow the police to know where they are.
Feel free to post your ideas and suggestions, perhaps we can send them all to the government who seem utterly clueless!