Top 5 Migrant Stories of the week

Photo by the Prime Minister's Office

Photo by the Prime Minister’s Office

1. David Cameron has pledged to overhaul the benefits system and restrict access to legal aid, health services and housing for migrants, in a bid to reduce the UK’s ‘pull factors’.

As of April this year, the coalition government has already ended the right of migrants to claim legal aid for immigration cases.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said:

“We’re going to look at every single one of our systems: housing, health and benefits, and make sure we’re not a soft touch for those that want to come here.

“There are many parts of our current arrangements that simply don’t pass a simple commonsense test in terms of access to housing, access to the health service, and access to justice and other things, which should be the right of all British citizens but they are not the right of anyone who just chooses to come here.”

Speaking on Thursday, the Prime Minister confirmed that this meant a crackdown on legal aid for all foreign nationals.

The government has pledged to cut net migration to 100,000 by 2015.

More here and here and here.

Video here.

2. The number of children being held in immigration detention more than doubled between November and December according to the latest official figures.

According to figures released by the Home Office this week, 31 children were detained in December 2012, compared with 14 in November.

The coalition government has previously claimed to have ended child detention, which was a manifesto promise of the Liberal Democrats.

More on the story from The Independent.

3. President Obama has drafted a bill to clear the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S., according to an American newspaper.

USA Today yesterday claimed to have obtained the draft of a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents within eight years.

The plan would also provide more funding for border security and would require employers to check the immigration status of new hires within four years.

Both chambers of Congress are currently also drafting their own immigration bills.

The U.S. currently has approximately 11 million illegal immigrants.

More from Reuters and the Huffington Post.

4. Vince Cable has said that Britain must do more to attract educated and wealthy immigrants.  The UK’s Business Secretary and one of the few Liberal Democrats in the cabinet argued this week that “inflexible” visa rules could undermine the economy.

In an article for The Telegraph, Mr Cable said:

“if we are serious about trading more with countries such as China, then we must make sure our borders are as open as possible to genuine tourism, business visitors, investment and trade.”

He went on to point out that Chinese spending on tourism overall has increased 400 percent in the last decade, though the level of Chinese tourism to the UK has fallen in the last five years.

5. The firm awarded a contract of up to £30 million to clear up to 181,000 illegal immigrants, has not removed anyone from the UK in its first two months.

Capita was awarded a contract of £4 million with the potential to earn up to £26 million in addition, for meeting certain targets. Its  work involves texting and emailing illegal immigrants to warn them to leave the country.

It emerged last month that Capita had wrongly sent texts to UK citizens telling them to leave.

More here.

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