- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

LONDON The British government yesterday announced a series of measures aimed at making Britain less attractive to refugees, including a ban on asylum seekers from 10 of the countries about to become members of the European Union.
Home Secretary David Blunkett, disclosing the changes in an article for the Times of London newspaper, also said the revisions will include a clampdown on would-be immigrants who are given "exceptional leave to remain" in the country, because the system is now being abused by economic migrants.
He said the measures are designed "to stop those who falsely claim asylum."
"What they really want is to work here. They will be included in changes that will be added to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum bill now on the verge of getting parliamentary approval," he said.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has come under increasing fire for lax laws and policing that allow immigrants to flood into Britain criticism that grew sharply when Mr. Blunkett disclosed last month the government had no chance of meeting its own target of deporting 30,000 failed asylum seekers a year.
But the new measures announced yesterday appeared certain to trigger new outrage from human rights organizations and left-wingers in Mr. Blair's ruling Labor Party.
Mr. Blunkett made it clear his immediate targets were bogus asylum seekers trying to get into the country for economic reasons, hundreds of them from Eastern European countries about to join the European Union. These countries will be designated "safe" to stop their citizens from seeking asylum in Britain on grounds that they fear for their lives in their homeland.
The 10 include Poland, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. Mr. Blunkett said Britain received 850 applications from Czech nationals in July. Since all 10 are set for EU membership, he said, it is "absurd" for their citizens to claim that they are having to flee for their lives.
Mr. Blunkett also said the government is ending a system under which refugees are allowed to claim benefits even if they sneak into the country rather than apply on arrival at a seaport or airport. Henceforth, they will have to give a "truthful and credible account" of how they reached Britain.


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