Data swap to curb illegal immigrants

IRELAND and Britain will sign an historic agreement today reinforcing their commitment to preserving the Common Travel Area (CTA), while further cracking down on illegal immigration.

The countries will sign a statement working towards joint standards for entry and ultimately enhanced electronic border systems to identify those with no right to enter the CTA (Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) before they arrive at the border.

The two countries will agree to share information on visa applications, including fingerprint biometrics and biographical details, to improve the visa-issuing process.

Close co-operation in the run-up to the agreement has already brought significant benefits. A pilot exchange to check data provided in 1,700 Irish visa applications lodged in Nigeria against British immigration records has identified over 200 persons applying to come to Ireland who have an “adverse” British immigration history. A considerable number of these were either deported from Britain or refused entry.

Additionally, so far this year, data swaps have shown that of 1,500 failed asylum claims made in Ireland nearly 500 have been identified as being known to the British Border Agency — either as asylum shoppers with previous asylum applications to Britain or as visa applicants, and usually in a different name and nationality to that declared in Ireland.

One immigration fraudster was caught with a number of fake identities after his zig-zag route across four countries was noticed by officers in Belfast.

The move could create considerable savings for both countries on removing foreign nationals with no right to stay.

Commenting on the deal, justice minister Alan Shatter said it would lead to greater cooperation on the in immigration matters between the two countries.

“The Common Travel Area is an important feature of the close relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom which both countries share a common interest in protecting and enhancing.”

“Today’s agreement provides a platform for greater cooperation on immigration matters, including joint action to protect the CTA from abuse by preventing potential immigration offenders from travelling to Ireland and the UK,” he said.

British immigration minister Damian Green said the agreement “will help us quickly refuse those with poor immigration records, identify asylum shoppers and speed up the removal process in those cases where people have entered the common travel area.”

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