Fake Documents Trade Boosted in the UK
An investigation found out that the UK legislation is supporting a booming illicit trade of fake documents. This helps illegal immigrants establish themselves in the country. The investigation was made by BBC.
The investigation was made undercover and it involved a reporter from BBC Inside Out London. Under the investigation, an ease of getting one’s hands on fake documents from illegal dealers has been revealed. Such documents include passports, national insurance cards and residence permits. Many of the illegal dealers were even part of criminal gangs.
Another revealed aspect was how the UK legislation dries the illicit trade of fake documents. A big role in the trade seemed to be driven specifically by the new Right to Rent laws. These laws were introduced in February 2016.
Landlords to check tenants for fake documents
The enforcement of the new UK legislation represents an effort of preventing illegal and undocumented immigrants from renting a property. Landlords are requested to check the immigration status of all their probable tenants. The probable tenants will have their status checked by reviewing passports, national insurance cards and residence permits. A landlord be fined or even sentenced to five years in prison if found renting accommodation to any illegal immigrants.
However, BBC noticed that landlords found themselves unwittingly duped by fake ID documents.
An undercover reporter used a secret camera to record the meetings he had with dealers. Following the meeting, he managed to purchase forged documents. The investigation revealed the fact that the fake documents were sold by the dealers for around £500. The dealers could also provide the requested document within 48 hours after the purchase was made.
Recordings made by the undercover reporter showed the meetings he had with letting agents and landlords. It also showed how they accepted the forged documents as legitimate without running any check on them.
One man was interviewed by the programme. He went by the pseudonym of Akhbar and had previously been part a gang involved in the illicit trade.
He declared: “In an average week they were selling between six and 10 fake residence permits or passports. In the last few months or so I would say they got even busier”.
Fake documents appeared as legitimate
BBC said that the fake documents were of good quality and appeared as legitimate. But, under close inspection, discrepancies could be observed.
One reported said: “The counterfeit passports I saw and acquired from the ID fraudsters were remarkably convincing at first glance. Professionally bound and sealed, some even feature mock biometric imprints. They are made with good quality materials and they also pass the touch test, feeling like the real thing. But they don’t withstand intense scrutiny. The photos on three appeared too small and the lettering somehow seemed dodgy but then, those selling them know they need not be perfect”.
At the same time, a counterfeiter interviewed by the programme advised people to avoid using such documents at airports. He said that airport personnel check the documents thoroughly. He added that a proper immigration officer can’t be conned, “but they are good enough to fool landlords”.
Immigration Order Blocked Again
On the 17th of October, Donald Trump’s third attempt to impose tight limits on immigration from Mideast nations was blocked. A Hawaiian judge prevented the immigration order from being put into application on midnight.
Derrick K. Watson concluded in a 40-page ruling that the immigration order’s latest version “suffers from precisely the same maladies”. Derrick K. Watson is the US District Judge of Honolulu. He said the immigration order doesn’t have enough findings supporting the legal ban of certain citizens under federal immigration laws. Over 150 million citizens from six Muslim-majority countries would be affected by the immigration order. The order was released on the 24th of September.
Watson also noticed that the restrictions “plainly discriminate on the basis of nationality”. This is also forbidden by immigration law.
Immigration order lawsuit not to include all countries
The immigration order was applied to eight countries. However, Hawaiian authorities and other challengers sued to reduce enforcement to the six countries heavily populated by Muslims. Judge Watson’s court did not include the other two in the lawsuit, North Korea and Venezuela.
A decision is waited to come from a judge in a separate case in Maryland. The decision is about a similar lawsuit against the latest version of the immigration order. For that case, a hearing was held on the 16th of October, giving the judge the possibility to act at any time.
The Hawaii ruling appeared in the form of a temporary order. That order prevents enforcement everywhere in the nation of the curbs on entry from the six nations. Enforcement is blocked only until the judge can consider making his action more permanent. The judge mentioned he might make that extra move without a hearing and without further filing of legal briefs. For this, both sides must consent to it. If not, he said that he would make a prompt hearing on the issue.
Immigration order harder to be enforced
Watson did not accept putting his ruling on hold. In this case, there would be only one way the presidential administration could go on with enforcement. That would be if it sought and obtained an order from a higher court allowing the measure. The administration can seek a delay. That could be obtained either from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit or at the Supreme Court. To obtain it from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court must refuse to do so.
Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court had upheld another ruling by Judge Watson against Trump’s second immigration order. That one had been released in March this year. Watson heavily counted on the Circuit Court’s earlier ruling. No conclusion about the constitutionality of Trump’s latest immigration order was involved in the ruling.
The third immigration order contains many of the prior versions’ features, especially from the second one. However, it is significantly different by the fact that the restrictions would receive a permanent character. In the second version, the entry of citizens from Muslim-majority countries was banned only for a 90-day period. The period expired on the 24th of September, and was replaced by the third executive order.
Passport Scheme to Boost Cypriot Economy
Amid reports from the European Commission, Harris Georgiades said the passport scheme represents a “useful tool” for the Cypriot government. Reports show that the Commission did not agree with Cyprus “giving away” passports. The government officials want to keep it in place. Harris Georgiades is the finance minister of Cyprus.
On the 16th of October, the minister said that the government does not directly receive any money from the scheme. Harris Georgiades told MPs: “The state does not collect a single euro. The benefit is an indirect one, and has to do with invigorating the economy through a series of investments in various sectors”.
According to the minister, it was reported that 1100 passports had been released via the programme since it was introduced. He added that these reports were misleading. The programme was introduced four years ago. Georgiades also said that the scheme’s impact should not be overestimated, even though it brings necessary money into the economy.
€3.3 billion brought to the economy by passport scheme
By the end of 2016, the citizenship programme contributed to the Cypriot economy with €3.3 billion in foreign investment.
Over the same period of time, an additional €700 million was brought in by a parallel scheme. The scheme offered a permanent residence permit to clients who bought homes worth €300,000. This way, the overall total was brought to €4 billion.
However, Georgiades mentioned that it was very important to make a certain distinction. He claimed that this money does not end up in state coffers. The only money that the state gets comes from property transfer fees and VAT.
Following pressure from the EU and IMF, the minister was asked if the government is considering revising the passport scheme. According to Georgiade’s answer, the government has not noticed any need to tighten up the eligibility criteria. He added that any changes would probably involve adjustments to the means of how the programme is promoted and advertised.
It was understood that the scheme is advertised by Cypriot agents abroad in countries that don’t even allow dual citizenship. This aspect led to bad optics for the government.
Passport scheme news published by British newspaper
The passport scheme issue regained traction following a story by a British newspaper in September. The newspaper then criticized the Cypriot authorities for granting citizenship to billionaire Russian oligarchs and members of the Ukrainian elite.
After the report’s release, a spokesman of the European Commission said the citizenship gain conditions are set by national law. But, he added, the conditions “are subject to due respect of EU law”.
On the other hand, Cypriot officials claim that the passport scheme is actually stricter than elsewhere.
In Cyprus, the citizenship necessary investment is for €2 million if the investment is made solely in residential real estate. Also, at least a quarter of this investment has to be spent on a lifetime residence. If not, the threshold is €2.5 million. At least €500,000 of that amount has to be spent on a permanent residence.
The requirement of a permanent residence in both cases guarantees the investor stays closely engaged with Cyprus. However, he may not be actually obliged to live on the island.
The initial condition for a €2 million overall investment in real estate is applied for three years. After this period, the newly Cypriot citizen may give up on the investment. But they have to keep Cyprus residence for life.
Under Malta’s scheme, by comparison, €350,000 has to be spent on residence and it must only be held for five years.
EU Citizenship Applications Increased by Brexit Vote
According to an analysis, at least 17,000 British citizens have tried obtaining a second EU citizenship from other EU countries. The analysis was made by English newspaper and it targets the year after the vote for Brexit.
For the moment, comprehensive figures for the previous year are not available. Even so, all larger countries have reported a sudden increase of EU citizenship applications. At the same time, a significant overall increase was suggested.
Figures of applications for EU citizenship
Following requests to London-based EU embassies and interior ministers across the bloc, figures have been collected for the report. The numbers reveal an increase of applications for EU citizenship from UK residents and Britons living in other EU states. The increase has appeared in the 12 months after the Brexit vote was expressed by the citizens.
According to responses from 20 countries, the most desired citizenship was the Irish one. UK residents and Britons living in Ireland have submitted almost 9,000 applications between July 2016 and June 2017.
In the 12 months after the Brexit vote, UK residents have submitted 8,017 applications to the Irish embassy in London. As a comparison, only 689 such applications have been submitted in the full year of 2015. A surge in applications from British residents in Ireland has also been witnessed. Reports show that 894 applications were made in the year from July 1st 2016, with only 104 the previous year.
Meanwhile, an overall agreement regarding the withdrawal of Britain’s article 50 from the EU is far from being reached. On the 12th of October, Michel Barnier said that there hasn’t been enough progress regarding the issue of citizens’ rights. The issue targets the Britons who live in other EU countries and European citizens who are also UK residents. It is estimated that 1.2 million Britons live in other EU countries and 3.6 million European citizens are UK residents. Michel Barnier is the chief negotiator of the EU.
Main reasons behind the increase of applications for EU citizenship
Dora Kostakopoulou said the main reasons behind the application increase were the people’s desire for residence security and retaining EU citizenship. This includes the right to travel and live in the countries that are members of the EU. After Brexit will be fulfilled, 27 countries will remain members of the union. Dora Kostakopoulou is a professor of EU law and European integration at Warwick University
The professor declared: ““They value European citizenship and therefore they do not wish to lose this status as a result of Brexit. So gaining citizenship of (another) member state would guarantee their existing status and their existing rights”.
The UK-based embassies and interior ministries of the other member states have been contacted by the newspaper. It requested the number of EU citizenship applications made by UK residents and Britons living in the respective countries.
The interior ministry reported that between January and August 2017, 129 Britons living in France applied for French citizenship. This is compared to the 1,363 applications that were made in the whole of 2016 and just 385 in 2015. These numbers don’t include the applications that were made directly to the French embassy in London.
Immigration Demands from the White House
Capitol Hill received a long list of requests for immigration legislation from the White House on the 8th of October. The list included building a wall at the US borders. It also involved hiring thousands of border guards and extending the usage of electronic employment verification systems.
According to Donald Trump, his proposal list "must be included". He said that this must be done as part of any legislation that involves immigration status. It refers to those immigrants who arrived to the United States illegally when they were children. It also involves immigrants whose deportations were postponed by the formal presidential administration of the United States.
In a letter to lawmakers, Donald Trump said: “Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end”.
Readopting the firm position on immigration
The suggestion represented an attempt to readopt the firm position on immigration that Donald Trump expressed in his election campaign. It seemed to pull back the olive branch extended by the president to Democratic leaders three weeks ago. At that time, Donald Trump claimed that he would agree to extend legal protection to DREAMers first. He also said that "the wall will come later".
Democratic leaders have, indeed, declined the demands. They argued that it highlights the fact that the presidential administration “can't be serious about compromise”.
A joint statement made by Republican Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer said: “We told the president at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable”. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are the House and Senate minority leaders.
The two added: “The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the DREAMers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so”.
Immigration act debate re-ignited
Under the DREAM act, people who arrived in the United States illegally as children would receive permanent legal status. This could also represent one step closer to obtaining a US citizenship.
In September, discussions over DREAMers have been re-ignited by Donald Trump. The president, then, cancelled the immigration programme known as DACA. The name stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The programme was put into application under the former presidential administration of Barack Obama. The programme used executive action to give certain immigrants quasi-legal status. Certain benefiters of DACA would get a grace period of six-months being deported. This would give Congress enough time to work out a permanent fix. The grace period will only be given to DACA recipients who had renewed their status by the end of September.
The plan of the White House has 18 specific policy areas that Trump wants to see involved in a bill. However, childhood arrivals were not specified as one of them. Marc Short declared: “We're asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients”. He noted that some immigrants who have remained in the US under DACA have even reached the age of 36. March Short is the legislative director of the White House.
Immigration of Unskilled Workers to Be Reduced by Republicans
Immigration of low-skilled workers into the United States might be decreased. Senator David Perdue wants to reduce the job competition between immigrants and US citizens. As a mean of reducing the competition, fewer low-skilled immigrant workers might be allowed to compete for jobs with Americans. Senator David Perdue is a Republican from Georgia.
On a conservative radio show that was broadcasted recently, Perdue said: “If you keep bringing uneducated unskilled workers in, who do they compete with? The low-end, low-skilled worker”.
On the other hand, Senator James Lankford wants immigration to be tightened up. He would offer US citizenship to illegal immigrants that have been brought to the country while they were children. James Lankford is the Republican Senator of Oklahoma.
However, he said that they must comply with stricter rules if they want to remain in the United States. For example, they would be required to have jobs if they will not be in school.
Many Republicans are trying to tie the fate of people who arrived to the U.S. illegally as children with tougher restrictions. The measure tries to base immigration less on family ties or sentiment and more on merit. In the meantime, the Congress is trying to tackle immigration.
Agreement on DACA to reduce overall immigration by half
According to David Perdue, any agreement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme should reduce overall immigration by half. DACA is an immigration programme established under the authority of the former presidential administration led by Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, critics claim that Perdue’s proposal could affect the US economy and cost jobs. The idea was even supported by a certain number of economists.
Democrats and a certain number of advocates said that Lankford’s proposal with Thom Tillis is too severe. Thom Tillis is the Republican Senator of North Carolina.
Donald Trump declared that he is prepared to carry out negotiations with Congress to reach a solution for DACA recipients. The solution must be reached before May, when the program expires. However, the president wants stricter measures for immigration as part of an agreement. Also, a spokeswoman from the White House said that the list might involve reducing overall immigration as desired by Perdue.
Immigration of low-skilled workers affecting wages of US citizens
The proposal made by Perdue and Tom Cotton targets concerns that the low-skilled workers influx takes jobs from less-educated Americans. The two senators also consider the influx reduces their salaries. Tom Cotton is the Republican Senator of Arkansas.
While endorsing the bill in August, Donald Trump declared: “The immigration system is issuing a record number of visas to low-wage immigrants. It has not been fair to our people, our citizens, to our workers”.
In 2016, around 800,000 people immigrated to the United States legally. The immigration was done in different ways, some of them even being sponsored by relatives and employers.
Around 45 percent of them own at least a college degree. Kent Smetters said that many of those who don’t hold such a degree “are typically very unskilled”. The declaration was made on a podcast regarding the proposal. Kent Smetters is an economics and public policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Dubai Airports to Implement Smoother Travel Projects
Dubai airports will soon implement certain projects that will reduce the time spent by travelers when undergoing immigration. The measure will allow first-class and business travelers to go straight to the boarding gate. They will not have to go through immigration anymore. Immigration checks will also be finished quickly using only smartphones and not passports.
Two future projects and one currently being implemented have been revealed during the Gitex Technology Week. The projects aim to make travelling at airports in Dubai a lot smoother and smarter.
Also, another future project has been mentioned. It was said that the project would help travelers finish immigration checks in less than 15 seconds. This would be done by walking through a “smart tunnel”. This way, travelers will no longer be requested to present their passport.
At the moment, travelers are allowed to fly only with their smartphone in possession. They can do that without their passports or boarding pass. The measure is used with the help of a system that is currently implemented on a limited basis.
Travelers to take e-cars to Dubai airports
According to Capt Amer Rashed Almheiri, a futuristic project will allow travelers to ride an e-car. The machine is to be equipped with immigration checks. The declaration was made during the Gitex Technology Week in Dubai. The measure is a part of the Dubai 10X Initiative. Capt Amer Rashed Almheiri is the general directorate of residency and foreign affairs (GDRFA) and the smart application department director.
Almheiri declared: “There is a camera inside the car that uses facial recognition, which is connected to smart immigration gates at the check-in areas. All information is captured, including passport details and the boarding pass will be sent to the counter. The traveler will not have to go through the immigration and can go straight to the lounge and the boarding gate. What is more amazing is that there is a weighing scale and scanner at the boot of the car so the baggage will be weighed, scanned for any prohibited materials and after passing the scanning will go straight to the cargo area of the plane”.
The project is being taken care of by the GDRFA along with Tesla. Basically, the car will gather the travelers’ information, release the boarding pass on smartphone and weigh the luggage. This way, the passenger will travel smoothly to the airport.
Dubai airports to use smart tunnels
A future smart gate will also allow regular travelers to go past the smart immigration gates. Facial and Iris recognition technology will be used by the smart tunnel. First, the passenger must stand in front of the tunnel. After that, he must walk through it for facial recognition and body scanning procedure. Finally, the passenger must exit the tunnel without any passport control or immigration checks at the terminal.
Almheiri said: “At present, e-gates at the Dubai airport terminals still require an Emirates ID to access the system but for smart gates, the passenger only has to scan the barcode on the smart phones to open the smart gate. Then the passenger will scan his/her fingerprint and the entire process is finished in under 15 seconds”.
UAE residents, Emirates and GCC citizens using the smart gates will no longer have to use the boarding gates. Almheiri added that “once they've cleared the immigration check, they can go straight to the boarding gates”.
UK Passports Case Taken to High Court
The UK Home Office will be involved in a high court hearing that will take place in October this year. Gender-neutral activists have challenged the Office to provide gender-neutral passports to citizens in the UK. Gender-neutral passports are also known as “X” passports.
On behalf of Christie Elan-Cane, lawyers are making the application for a judicial review. Christie Elan-Cane has campaigned on the gender-neutrality issue for 25 years. She has also provided the parliament with evidence about transgender equality.
In September, Canada became the 10th country to issue gender-neutral travel documents to its citizens. At the moment, there are other countries that already have a third gender category besides male and female. Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Ireland and Nepal have adopted such a measure.
Individual states are allowed by standards for machine-readable passports to enter M, F or X in the gender category. X stands for unspecified. The UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has the authority to set the standards for machine-readable passports.
Transgender equality case in the UK
Two years ago, Elan-Crane showed up in front of the Commons women and equalities select committee. Her appearance aimed to provide evidence for their inquiry into transgender equality.
“Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right but non-gendered people are often treated as though we have no rights. The UK’s passport application process requires applicants to declare whether they are male or female. It is inappropriate and wrong that someone who defines as neither should be forced to make that declaration” Elan-Crane said.
Elan-Cane’s argument is that the government is discriminating against the UK citizens. The discrimination is done by allowing foreign X passport holders to enter the UK at border checks.
It is expected for the permission hearing to be held in the administrative division of the high court in London. The expected date is the 11th of October. The initial application made by Elan-Cane was dismissed.
UK Home Office’s refusal against the human rights
Kate Gallafent QC, Tom Mountford of Blackstone Chambers and solicitors from Clifford Chance are working pro bono on the claim. Their argument is that the Home Office’s refusal illegally restricts Elan-Cane’s human rights. Those rights are according to articles 8 and 14 of the European convention on human rights. More specifically, it is the right to private and family life and absence of discrimination.
They insist that the passport policy discriminates UK nationals who don’t identify as male or female. It was said that the policy fails to acknowledge their identities or existence.
Elan-Cane wanted to launch the legal challenge in 2015, but held off pending the select committee inquiry’s findings. The final report from the MP recommended that the government “must look into the need to create a legal category for those people with a gender identity outside that which is binary and the full implications of this”.
In the meantime, it was suggested that the “sex” question in the next census could be made voluntary. This would be as a reaction to claims that it discriminates against transgender people. The suggestion was made by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It referred to the census that will take place in 2021.
California Approving “Sanctuary State” Law
Authorities in California have adopted the most expansive “sanctuary state” law in the United States. The law’s target is to obstruct the US president’s deportation policy. The law will prevent cooperation between the police in California and federal immigration authorities. California is the most populous state in the United States.
Police officers in California are restricted by the landmark bill from questioning people about their citizenship status. They are also not allowed to detain foreign-born residents based on immigration violations. The law could lead to a big legal showdown that might take place between the White House and Californian authorities. It also prohibits police from transferring certain inmates to immigration authorities. This situation represents the most recent example of roadblocks created by the liberal Golden State to Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
The law is more far-reaching compared to a sanctuary city policy in Oregon that already exists. It could help protect immigrants from aggressive deportation attempts in a state home that hosts over two million undocumented people. This is almost one quarter of all unauthorized immigrants who live in the United States.
The California Values Act
The legislation is called the California Values Act. It continues the sanctuary city policies aggressively targeted by Donald Trump during his election campaign in 2016. Such policies already exist in hundreds of municipalities. Trump’s claims that sanctuary jurisdictions lead to crime have been challenged by studies. Certain research indicated that cities with sanctuary policies have significantly lower crime rates. This is compared to comparable municipalities allowing local police to enforce immigration laws.
The presidential administration has been sued by some liberal cities like San Francisco. It was sued over Donald Trump’s warnings to punish the cities by withholding federal public safety grant money. The cities’ argument was that undocumented people cooperate nicely with police when it does not involve in immigration enforcement.
The bill dealt with widespread attacks by the presidential administration and conservatives across the US before it was signed. Jeff Sessions, US attorney general, recently described the bill as “unconscionable”. He also said that it “risks the safety of good law enforcement officers and the safety of the neighborhoods that need their protection the most”. The bill was signed by Jerry Brown, the California governor.
Pushback by conservative sheriffs in California
Some conservative sheriffs in California have made a significant pushback against the proposal. Negotiations have been carried out recently by Brown, who is a Democrat. He negotiated revisions with sponsoring Senator Kevin de León. The Senator loosened restrictions on police. This way, the police can detain certain people for federal authorities. These people must have been accused of serious or violent felonies.
Jerry Brown declared: “These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day”.
The bill is reduced from its original form that created stricter limits on police. Even so, certain right-leaning law enforcement officials have carried on vocally opposing the measure. In a statement, Thomas Homan said that California had “chosen to prioritize politics over public safety”. Thomas Homan is the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). De León claimed the state is getting ready to defend the legislation in court if the presidential administration takes legal action.
Citizenship Overhaul to Include Tougher English Test
Peter Dutton has agreed over the fact that he must the English-language test in the UK citizenship package. The improvement must be done if the government wants to get the legislation through the parliament. The government is authorized to modify the language test that must be taken by foreigners who want to obtain citizenship. Peter Dutton is the UK immigration minister.
However, the Nick Xenophon Team involved in the citizenship overhaul made an observation. It highlighted that reshaping must be more broad-ranging than just the language test. The Nick Xenophon Team is the critical parliamentary powerbroker.
On the 3rd of October, Stirling Griff told the press: “There are so many components of this whole package that are a problem. Our position hasn’t changed at all”. Stirling Griff is the senator of NXT. He added that the immigration minister “needs to go back to the drawing board”.
At the end of September, Dutton received four sitting days from the Senate. The four days were given the minister to prepare his controversial citizenship bill for debate. Otherwise, it would be struck from the notice paper.
The procedural pincer movement in the British parliament came soon after Dutton’s attempt to enact the citizenship package was derailed. The NXT claimed that it could not support it in its current form.
Citizenship overhaul hard to approve due to numbers
At the moment, the British government does not have the numbers to get its citizenship overhaul approved by the Parliament. The overhaul has been politically marked as a measure of national security.
It was not made clear how the government would respond to the parliamentary deadlock that it is currently dealing with. The two options are negotiation or pulling the whole package. On the 3rd of October, Dutton showed signs that he was prepared to negotiate for the first time.
Currently, the English-language test requires a university standard of language fluency. After the minister was asked if he was ready to overhaul the test, he said: “Of course we are flexible”.
In an attempt to reach a compromise, Dutton said he had a discussion with the NXT. The discussion with the NXT was described as “constructive” by the minister.
Meanwhile, the government needs the NXT bloc. The NXT is needed because both Labor and the Greens are against the citizenship package.
Target and effects of citizenship form changes
According to Dutton, the government’s target was to make sure that would-be UK citizens hold a functional level of English. They could also improve their language skills over time.
The citizenship form changes would lead to longer waiting times for permanent residents before they could apply for citizenship. Such increases could go from one year to four years. The changes would also have new applicants completing a tougher English-language test and achieve a pass mark of 75%. This is equivalent to level 6 of the international English language testing system (IELTS).
With the new package, Dutton would also gain significant power to overrule decisions on citizenship applications. These decisions are reached by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The NXT was clear in expressing the broad-ranging concerns about the package’s practical implications. Besides that, the team has expressed a certain objection to the enhanced ministerial powers over tribunal decisions.
Stirling Griff said that the government had to go back to the drawing board. He also said more widely consultations about the changes’ implications had to be done.
Immigration Rights Protest in New Haven
Activists and clergy members in New Haven were arrested for blocking the entrance to the Hartford Immigration Court. This was a form of supporting immigration rights and protest against the impending deportation of Franklin and Gioconda Ramos. The two have lived in the United States illegally for 24 years. Totally, 36 people were arrested that day.
The protest that took place on the 25th of September was carried out by about 200 members of the community. The couple was supposed to be deported on the 29th of September. Numerous public campaigns took place to help them remain in the US. As a last resort, Unidad Latina en Acción, or ULA, turned to civil disobedience. ULA is a New Haven activist group.
The Ramoses were granted a temporary stay by a New York immigration judge. However, the judge considers reopening their case. The court’s decision represents a success for the protesters. It also points out the role that religious and community organizations have in the defense of immigrant rights.
John Lugo declared: “This is a country that has been built on immigrant forces. We feel strongly that we belong in this country because of the history and what we contribute to the country”. John Lugo is a co-founder of ULA. He compared the presidential administration’s policies to ethnic cleansing. He also emphasized the importance of protesting with politicians focusing on “kicking people of color out of the country”.
Limited cooperation with immigration enforcement
At the moment, the Police Department from New Haven has limited cooperation with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Even so, Hugo says that the department is not taking enough measures to protect its residents from ICE. He added that he would like to see such a policy being approved by the Board of Alders. Officers are prevented by New Haven’s General Order 06-2 from asking about immigration status when patrolling or carrying out investigations.
According to Pablo Uribe ’18, sanctuary cannot have a purely legal or political understanding. He said that real sanctuary demands people to show solidarity with each another. This would require students from Yale to show an increased involvement.
The importance of self-education on immigration policy
Jason Ramos highlighted the importance of self-education regarding immigration policy. He also mentioned supporting daily discussion in communities, including through nonviolent civil disobedience. Jason Ramos is the son of Franklin and Gioconda Ramos.
Jason said: “[Civil disobedience] brings people to a line where they are conflicted. Conflict is a part of progress and growth. Change is hard. Nobody really likes change, but sometimes our habits are very unproductive to society and ourselves”.
With his parents trying to maintain morale, the youngster said that they are afraid of losing everything they have built. However, he added that his family is thankful for all the support and resources received so far.
Paul Fleck requested an engagement for greater civil rights within the religious community. He said that the community must not let its “fear to get the best of its faith”. Paul Fleck is the pastor of Hamden Plains Methodist Church.
Paul Fleck said: “Jesus said in Matthew 25 that ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’. This is a sign of biblical hospitality — to treat the immigrant in our midst as we would like to be treated, to treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated”.
Passport Applications Made by Brits in Other EU Countries
In the 12 months after the Brexit vote, more UK citizens applied for citizenship in other EU countries. The data shows that, compared to the previous year, tens of thousands more EU passport applications have been registered.
The most applications for dual nationality by far have been received by Ireland. However, passport applications have more than doubled for all countries targeted by the data between July 2016 and June 2017. There was also an intense increase from 2015 to 2016 in countries that only had data for calendar years.
Colin Firth is one of the famous UK citizens who applied for citizenship elsewhere in Europe. In September, it was confirmed that he successfully managed to obtain Italian citizenship. Colin Firth is a British actor who won the Oscar for his role in the movie “The King’s Speech”.
All EU countries have been contacted by the British press. The countries have been asked about the number of British people who have applied for citizenship. They were also asked to provide the numbers of applications registered before and after the June 2016 referendum.
Exact numbers for every country have been impossible to obtain. But the collected data shows a lot of people taking precautionary measures in case of a failure of Brexit negotiations.
Figures of EU passport applications
The report shows 25,207 British citizens who applied for Irish passports in the 12 months before the referendum. Meanwhile, that number rose to 64,400 in the 12 months directly after the vote.
At the same time, other countries have witnessed sharp increases. Spain, for example, has seen an increase of passport applications going from 2,300 before the referendum to 4,558 after. The number of applications also more than doubled in other countries of the European Union. For example, passport applications in Sweden went from 969 to 2,002. In Denmark they went from 289 to 604 and in Poland from 152 to 332.
There are also countries where data is made available in slightly different ways. For example, in Germany it comes state by state. This means that there were 60 applications from British citizens in Berlin in the year before the referendum. In the year after, there were 810.
In the meantime, France provides figures on a calendar year basis. The rise of passport applications is once again obvious. While in 2015 there were 385 passport applications, they rose to 1,363 in 2016. There was a further increase to 2,129 passport applications in the first eight months of the current year.
The reasons behind EU passport applications
Currently, there is no exact way of knowing why people apply for citizenship when they do. However, assumptions that political circumstances play a role have been made.
Ireland has monthly figures available. Reports show that the highest number of passport applications by now came in March, April and May this year. It was the period just before or just after the British government triggered Article 50. It was also the start of the countdown to the UK leaving the EU.
About one million British citizens already live elsewhere in the EU. Many more currently in the UK also have the right to apply for citizenship in other EU countries. Reports show that this is exactly what they have been doing in record numbers since the referendum.