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December 20, 2012 4:00 pm
Labour called on the government to give border agency officials the power of arrest to prevent illegal immigrants escaping when they raid buildings, as part of the opposition party’s new tougher immigration policy.
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, will seek to draw a line between taking more action against illegal immigrants while recognising that some immigration can benefit the economy.
While Labour had been too slow on immigration, the Conservative’s net cap on migrants is too simplistic, she argued.
“The government’s immigration approach is failing to cut the most damaging forms of immigration and is at risk of hitting beneficial immigration such as graduate students instead,” she said, adding the net cap is bizarre because it looks successful if more Britons move abroad.
She said giving officials the power of arrest, as recommended by the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, would help them “act swiftly when they discover problems rather than delaying and allowing people to abscond”.
But Ms Cooper also used Afghan interpreters who had worked for the British army in Afghanistan as an example of where people should be allowed to settle in the UK, and urged the government to commit to a settlement for them.
The announcement comes after Ed Miliband, Labour leader, toughened his party’s line on immigration when he called for migrants to learn English in a speech last week. Earlier in the year, Mr Miliband said Labour made “a mistake not to impose transitional controls” to limit immigration from eastern Europe when in power.
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