Next stage of asylum crackdown laid out

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Indy Politics

The Queen's Speech set out the next phase of Home Secretary David Blunkett's crackdown on asylum.

In the most controversial aspect of the new package children of failed asylum seekers will be taken into care if their parents refuse a free flight home.

This policy was first announced on October 24 at the same time as Mr Blunkett unveiled a "one off" amnesty for 15,000 asylum seeker families.

The new Immigration and Asylum Bill will also reduce the two tier appeals system to a single tier, "reducing the opportunities to exploit the system", said a Home Office spokesman.

Asylum seekers could be jailed for up to two years if they destroy their passports on the way to Britain, under another new measure.

Immigration officials will be able to question applicants' credibility if they arrive without travel documents.

Many asylum seekers dispose of their passports en route because traffickers have advised them it will make it easier for them to win the right to stay in Britain.

The Bill will also grant new powers to the Immigration Services Commissioner to investigate legal advisers.

Last month, announcing details of the Bill for the first time, ministers revealed that the commissioner would be able to enter solicitors' offices to seize documents.

The commissioner would also be able to raid the homes and offices of unqualified legal advisers.

A new criminal offence of advertising or offering immigration advice without appropriate qualifications would also be created.

The measures to take children into care have attracted widespread criticism.

Under the proposals, benefit payments will be withdrawn from families who fail to take up a free flight home once their application has been rejected.

To avoid making children suffer because of their parents' decisions not to co-operate, powers will allow the youngsters to be taken into local authority care.

A further measure in the Bill will designate some countries as "safe" for non-nationals to speed up removals on asylum and human rights grounds.

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