Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill
The home secretary, David Blunkett, has set out new plans to crack down on illegal immigrants and employers who hire labour on the black economy. Blunkett said he wanted to tackle "unscrupulous individuals" who attempt to defraud and abuse the system.
"I am determined to put in place a nationality, immigration and asylum system which is clear, robust and workable. Only then can we build the trust and confidence necessary to deal with any threats to good race relations and prevent a breakdown in social cohesion," he said.
"Our asylum process must be efficient, fast and trusted by the British people. This is not about creating 'fortress Britain'. We are an open, trading nation, and we will continue to meet our obligations - along with the rest of the international community - to provide a safe haven to people fleeing persecution."
He said Britain could no longer be seen as "a soft touch" to economic migrants. The legislation contains measures for a new system of induction, accommodation, reporting and removal centres.
The government also intends to get tough with those who seek to delay their removal through the appeals process. The Home Office will "streamline the appeals process" to ensure applicants and their advocates have less opportunity to delay cases and obstruct the removal of those denied asylum.
The penalty for people trafficking will also rise from 10 to 14 years in prison as the government seeks to crack down on an industry which has boomed in recent years.
The bill takes forward the plans to reform the entire asylum and immigration system set out in the recent white paper, "Secure Borders Safe Haven". The government says it wants to aid those genuinely fleeing persecution and ensure that the UK has the skills it needs for the economy to remain competitive.
"We have a responsibility to asylum seekers - to consider their claims fairly and quickly and to support them during the process - but they in turn have a responsibility toward us," said Blunkett. "And those seeking nationality will be expected to learn our languages, to understand the workings of our society and to take a new citizenship pledge. "I am equally determined that would-be illegal immigrants get the message that we are tightening our rules and deploying every possible measure to deter and to detect them," he added.