ID system ‘should cover all citizens’

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The ID registration system for EU citizens in the UK after Brexit should also be rolled out to British citizens to avoid another Windrush scandal, a think-tank has suggested.

Extending the documentation programme for the 3.6m Europeans living here to everyone else is among a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system recommended in a new report to strengthen the UK border.

Britain leaving the EU is the perfect time to come up with new ways of controlling national borders, the paper published today by Policy Exchange suggests.

The idea of a national ID system for British citizens has been controversial for some time, with many people opposing it on civil liberties grounds. A £5bn national identity card scheme was introduced by the last Labour Government in 2006 but a Bill to scrap it was the first legislation introduced by Theresa May when she became Home Secretary in 2010.

EU citizens already in the UK will have to pay £65 and join a registration scheme if they wish to stay in Britain after the end of the transition period on December 31 2020 under changes announced by the current Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

In the report, David Goodhart, Policy Exchange’s head of demography, immigration and integration, suggests that the scheme should be widened to Britons, initially on a voluntary basis.

He said: “We strongly recommend reopening the debate about ID management to reassure people that we know who is in the country, for how long, and what their entitlements are.

“A proper national ID system would have prevented the harassment of the Windrush victims.”

Among the other ideas in The Border Audit: A Post-Windrush Review, are:

A more decisive removals process, that gets people out before they can judicially review their cases, plus reforms to allow applications for asylum from outside the UK and private sponsorship of them.

An amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for 10 years or more.CVV

More cash to pay illegal immigrants to leave and a joint scheme involving the Department for International Development to help them set up businesses in their countries of origin.

A British version of the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) that allows non-UK citizens to use e-gates at borders, making it quicker for “low-risk groups” to enter.

One single “command” responsible for sea borders, under one person based in Portsmouth

Mr Goodhart added: “Illegal immigration is not only unfair on legal immigrants who wait their turn in the queue and the employers and businesses who play
(and pay) by the rules, it also fosters a twilight world of criminality, dependence and exploitation in which modern slavery flourishes.

“Combating illegal immigration should be overtly linked to minimum wage enforcement, private landlord licensing and action against modern slavery.

“While a general amnesty for the estimated 500,000 illegal
residents here would send the wrong signal, some form of
regularisation should also
be considered for those who
have been here for more than
10 years, who are now part of their communities with
ties to the UK and often become the focus of grassroots campaigns.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are pursuing an ambitious programme of reform at the border as well as investing in new capability to improve passenger experience.”