A recent report shows that more than 180,000 immigrants remain in the UK despite their work permits having expired and this may lead to the government reconsidering the ID card scheme.
The Commons’ Committee of Public Accounts, which is chaired by Labour’s Margaret Hodge, said that the UK Border Agency is not able to monitor migrant workers effectively. And while they estimate that 180,000 people may be staying in the UK illegally, they do not “have the right information to know if this is an accurate estimate”.
Mrs Hodge recommends that the coalition government revisits the idea of ID cards for foreign nationals, which Labour had planned while they were in power.
She said: “One of the most important rationales for introducing an ID card system was that it would make it much easier for us to control our borders.”
“I believe… this Government will have to return to that issue.”
Although the coalition government is opposed to ID cards, David Cameron announced plans to cut numbers of immigrants to the UK by tens of thousands. One measure he put in place was to cap the number of immigrant workers from non-EU countries.
But currently many workers are able to enter the UK through a different system which is not affected by the cap. Multinational companies are allowed to transfer their employees to the UK, and so many thousands of IT workers have come to the UK through transfers even though there is a great shortage of IT jobs for UK residents.
The committee expressed concern for this situation. It said that the UK Border Agency must “improve its ability to assess and address the risk of employers failing to comply with immigration rules by developing better systems and placing greater priority on compliance”.
Even if the government does not reconsider ID cards, the committee’s report still “demonstrates why the immigration system needs radical reform”.
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