Blunkett accepts need to get tough on immigration rules

Home
secretary David Blunkett has accepted all 15 recommendations of a report that
found exploitation of self-employment immigration rules.

The
report, ordered by the home secretary and conducted by senior civil servant Ken
Sutton, found evidence that the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA)
category has been exploited.

Blunkett
accepted the report’s recommendation that a tougher approach should be adopted
for all new applications and for any applications currently in the system.
Blunkett has assigned enforcement staff to carry out checks to identify and
remove applicants who should not be here.

He
said the report revealed serious failings in how ECAA applications for
self-employment from Bulgaria and Romania were handled.

"This
is clearly unacceptable, and something ministers and managers alike are
determined to take responsibility for and sort out," he said.

"I
am pleased, however, that the central allegation made in late March – that the
Home Office was aware of systemic organised criminality and did nothing about
it – has been proved wrong."

He
added: "Neither does the report find that Home Office officials knowingly
processed applications based on forged passports, or that they were complacent
about organised criminality in Romania and Bulgaria."

A
major overhaul of the internal organisation of the Immigration and Nationality
Directorate has been instigated to improve management and information systems.
The changes have already delivered massive reductions in asylum applications.

ECAA
agreements are designed to allow people to establish themselves in business or
self-employment to the benefit of our economy and to their own countries as
they prepare for EU membership. Under the agreements, nationals of the relevant
countries must be treated no less favourably than nationals of the host state.

By
Quentin Reade

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