Friday, October 22, 2010

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010

The Government has published the revised wording of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010. The original wording was withdrawn earlier in the year following hundreds of wrecking-amendments in Committee by the Opposition (especially Labour with its absurd demand that illegal immigrants who claim to have been trafficked should be allowed a 6-month visa automatically even if they refuse to cooperate in prosecutions of traffickers). The bill would:

- Remove the requirement to give failed asylum-seekers 14 days to appeal their deportation-orders, by repealing section 3 of the Immigration-Act 1999. This is necessary because 6,000 failed asylum-seekers have gone on the run to evade deportation and more would follow unless notice of date of deportation is abolished.

- Requires immigrants to enter via "approved ports" and present themselves to an Immigration-Officer. This could reduce the incentive to enter via NI, from where 90% of our asylum-seekers enter the state (according to the govt).

- Require the presentation of travel-documents at the frontiers of the State except for Irish/UK nationals.[quote]26.—(1) A person (other than a national of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who has travelled directly from Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man or an Irish citizen) arriving or attempting to arrive from outside the State or entering or attempting to enter the State shall be in possession of a valid travel document.

"(2) A person (including an Irish citizen) arriving or attempting to arrive from outside the State or entering or attempting to enter the State shall—

(a) comply with such reasonable instructions as an immigration officer may give for those purposes, and

(b) furnish to an immigration officer such information in such manner as the immigration officer may reasonably require for the purposes of the performance of his or her functions, and where the immigration officer requires a person other than a foreign national to provide biometric information—

(i) the biometric information need only be furnished to the extent necessary to enable the immigration officer to compare it with any biometric information in a travel document furnished by the person, to establish that that travel document relates to him or her and to establish the validity of that travel document, and

(ii) the biometric information is not otherwise authorised to be retained, stored or compared to any other biometric information.

(3) A person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence.

(4) For the purposes of this Part, a person coming from outside the State who arrives at any place in the State shall be deemed to have arrived at a frontier of the State.

.—(1) A person (other than a person to whom a waiver has been granted under section 24(4), a national of the United Kingdom ."

- introduces new offences (Section 149) of knowingly facilitating the entry of illegal-immigrants into the State.

This is a welcome and much overdue piece of legislation and it is imperative that on this occasion, the Government govern instead of pandering to an Opposition without (in 2010) a mandate to govern. Cosy-consensus is harmful to the democratic-process because it allows a minority to dictate to a majority. It is imperative that on this occasion, the Government pass the Bill. Write to Brian Cowen, Dermot Ahern and John Gormley to push for its enactment this year. In a recession charity must begin at home. We cannot afford the annual asylum-bill of €300 million, wasted on property-moguls and free legal-aid. We must send a message that another PAMA-style asylum-scam will not be tolerated still less rewarded.

As ever, the dogooders in the Immigrant Council of Ireland are not to be outdone in the bleeding-heart stakes:

" ...Council chief executive Denise Charlton said the redrafted Bill would perpetuate an immigration system that was unfair, inefficient and costly. She said the introduction of “summary deportation” would enable the State to remove people without appeal and could lead to serious injustices.

Under the current system, people have 15 days to appeal a deportation order. She said the legislation made no allowance for people in exceptional circumstances in relation to summary deportation, whereby lawfully resident migrants – or even vulnerable Irish people suffering from mental health problems – could be removed from the country without a right of appeal.

“The council is deeply concerned that the introduction of summary deportations could even result in the deportation of vulnerable Irish citizens or lawfully resident migrants who are unable to prove they have a legal right to be in Ireland,” said Ms Charlton.

She said the provisions in the redrafted Bill on summary deportation run contrary to recent Supreme Court decisions and a recommendation from the UN human rights committee."

This organisation also campaigned vociferously against the Citizenship Referendum in 2004 and as such lacks credibility as a barometer of public-opinion. Those considering voting Labour for the first time would do well to take note of Michael D's opposition to the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill's introduction of summary-deportations for failed asylum-seekers. It underlines once more what a disaster a Labour Justice/Immigration Minister would be for Irish immigration-policy and the control of our borders. Do-gooders like the Migrant Rights Centre insist on keeping the discredited 14 days to appeal deportation, in spite of the fact that this has led 6,000 failed asylum-seekers going on the run:

"...Siobhán O’Donoghue of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said the new Bill in its current form would end up a bonanza for lawyers and cost taxpayers money needlessly by provoking court challenges.
“Even a criminal facing extradition gets 14 days to make an appeal whereas this Bill removes this right for people who have committed no crime,” she said.
Labour TD Michael D Higgins said summary deportation broke basic human rights. He said the new version of the Bill was a step backwards when compared with a previous version of the Bill, which TDs spent hundreds of hours poring over in the Oireachtas...

We can't trust Labour on immigration. The new FG Justice Spokesman also continues to manifest a bleeding-heart approach to the issue:

"Fine Gael justice spokesman Alan Shatter said the Bill failed to adequately address the human rights of immigrants and their families and the rights of Irish citizens to a full family life in circumstances in which their spouse was neither a citizen of the State nor of any other EU country.
Labour’s Pat Rabbitte said that, within certain conditions, his party would seek to amend the Bill to address the central issue of the right of family reunification.

Granting "family-reunification" would have the consequence of doubling, tripling or quadrupling the number of immigrants relative to the numbers already claiming asylum. This is grossly unfair to the 450,000 unemployed. If provision is made for family-reunification, they ought to include paternity-tests and - where adoption is claimed - verifiable certification of adoption. The claims by anti-deportation campaigners and the Opposition parties that the Bill would mean "summary-deportation" is ludicrous in the context of one of the most generous asylum-appeals systems in Europe. As explained by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in the Dail on 06/10/10:

"The Bill effects a radical restructuring of the State’s asylum determination processes. It has been apparent for some time that the principal question that most protection claimants want answered is not “Will you recognise me as a refugee?” but “Can I stay?”. That question is currently answered in a multi-stage process whereby the first aspect examined, by the independent Refugee Applications Commissioner, is whether the applicant is a refugee. Most negative determinations of that aspect are appealed to the independent Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Following a negative determination on appeal, there is a lengthy process whereby the Minister must determine whether the person is eligible for subsidiary protection and if there are other reasons why the person should be let stay. This sequential process is cumbersome, ineffective and inefficient and causes inevitable delays in the final decision; and delay itself can affect what the final decision is to be."

That is why the IRP will require asylum seekers to give all their reasons for applying for asylum at the beginning of the process rather than later on:

"The Bill introduces a single procedure wherein the protection applicant will be required to set out all of the grounds, including protection grounds under the Geneva Convention and the EU asylum qualification directive on which he or she wishes to remain in the State. Those grounds will be investigated by the Minister and the outcome of the investigation could be that the person is either allowed to remain in the State on refugee grounds or subsidiary protection grounds and is granted a protection declaration or is not granted protection but allowed to remain in the State on other discretionary grounds and is granted a residence permit on that basis, or is not allowed to remain in the State and is thus required to leave or be removed.
The introduction of the single procedure will bring the State into line with processes in many other European states. Under the Bill, the functions currently carried out by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner will be subsumed into the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, INIS, the administrative agency of my Department. The present statutory provisions for UNHCR to have access to information about cases and to be present if it wishes at individual interviews are restated, and it is my intention to continue the co-operation that has existed with UNHCR, in particular in regard to that body’s signal contribution so far to training of staff in the refugee decision-making process. The UNHCR has stated at many meetings with me that it wishes to see the expeditious passage of this Bill.

A question for the ICI, FG, the Labour Party etc.: how can the bill be racist if it has the support of the UNHCR? More from the Dail debate on the Bill can be found here.


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