THE GOVERNMENT quietly pushed through changes to immigration rules last week. Now when an appeal against deportation has been dismissed only the home secretary will be told of the decision. Before last week the asylum seeker and his or her representatives or solicitors were also informed.
Now snatch squads can be sent out to take asylum seekers into immediate detention before they even know that their appeal has failed. Alasdair McKenzie of Asylum Aid accused the New Labour government of sneaking the measure through 'without proper warning or publicity'. Margaret Lally of the Refugee Council argued that the new rules will result in people being sent back to dangerous situations without the chance to get legal advice.
Home secretary David Blunkett has set immigration officials a target - to remove 30,000 asylum seekers every year by 2003. The Home Office has spent £140,000 on a scheme to put refugees from the Sangatte refugee centre off coming to Britain.
The campaign - called 'Dignity or exploitation: the choice is in your hands' - included a 'video nasty' outlining the horrors of working in Britain. Officials also offered to pay for refugees to travel back to their homes. It managed to convince only 17 of the 17,500 residents of the camp to leave, and has been wound up.