LETTER : Freedom of movement benefits all EU citizens

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was surprised to learn of the reasons for Charles Wardle's resignation ("Resignation adds to Tory woes", 13 February), particularly because the frontier issues have been around for many years, and especially because, for most of the time when the policy was being formulated, he was the minister responsible.

The main concerns about abolishing frontier controls were the potential rise of drug smuggling, terrorism and illegal immigration. Despite these concerns, in January 1993, customs controls were abolished without much fuss. The last barrier left to be removed is immigration control at internal ports of entry only. It is important to remember that drug smugglers, criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants are often detected not by an immigration officer acting alone but through a process of co-operation between customs officers, police officers or special branch officers and immigration officers.

There is much scaremongering about the scale of illegal immigration. From figures obtained from the Home Office, during 1991, 46 million people entered the UK. Around 29 million were British nationals returning to the UK, eight million were EU nationals and nine million had non-EU citizenship. Just over 18,000 were refused entry because of suspicions that they did not intend short stays (but also because many lacked proper documentation). A thousand were found to have forged passports. These figures are hardly indicative of a large-scale problem.

Yours sincerely,

MARIA FERNANDES

Fernandes Vaz, Solicitors

London, NW2

14 February

The writer is on the Law Society's sub-committee on immigration.

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