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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Hi my name's Ahmed er sorry I mean Bob.

(Reuters) - The government has been plunged into a fresh row over immigration policy, just shortly after a whistleblowing diplomat was suspended for raising concerns over lax checks on immigrants.

The Conservatives said on Monday they had received an email from a British diplomat in Romania saying migrants were being let into Britain despite having forged papers.

He said immigration officials lacked the language skills to spot fakes and described the processing of applicants from Romania and Bulgaria as "organised crime and UK immigration policy at its worst".

Last week a Moroccan was arrested in connection with the Madrid bombings. He had been traveling the world using the identity of a 30 year old white male called Bob from Lancashire, who had never held a passport and never been outside the UK. His name was Ahmed al somethingorother and was of obviously middlle eastern appearance -and no one spotted this?

Now I know I keep going on about this especially as my work covers security technologies for exactly this sort of thing, but again the governments priorities seem all out of kilter. I expect the location of these immigrants who have been allowed in the country is known, but will they be deported? I suspect not, more likely given official documents, benefits and a house. If I fail to tax, MOT my car or not pay a parking fine on time, my house will probably be surrounded by a SWAT squad from the serious crimes division and dragged away never to be seen again.

Shouldn't we be training our passport control officers to spot forgeries, we certainly have the technology. You try and enter the States without the correct permits and documents. I feel guilty the minute I line up at immigration control in the US or any other country simply because I think my passport photo looks nothing like me. I once crossed the yellow line before my turn at Miami airport and got frogmarched by a burly security officer to the back of the line. When it came to my turn every single document and detail of my stay was noted and copied. I can just see this happening at Heathrow.


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