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Eastern European migration ‘falling’

Numbers of eastern European people registering to work in the UK are falling, government statistics have revealed.

Between April and June 2007 just under 4,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were granted access to work for employers in the UK’s labor market – 21% lower than the 5,075 granted in the Q1 of the year. An additional 3,980 people were given cards to work in seasonal agricultural work. There has also been a fall in the number of individuals who applied to work under the Worker Registration Scheme from the eight Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said the figures show that the government’s policy of restricting access to the UK’s labor market to only those who have something to offer the UK is working. “The message is clear - while we welcome those who are here to work legally bringing their skills and expertise and benefiting our country, those who don’t have permission to work here won’t find a job,” he added.

However, shadow home secretary David Davis has criticized today’s figures for not showing what the net level of immigration was into the UK in 2006. “This will reinforce concerns that the government has no idea, who is entering and leaving the United Kingdom,” he said. Davis added the figures show that the number of failed asylum seekers deported in the Q2 of this year fell by 6%, meaning the government has missed its target of removing more failed asylum seekers than arrive. “What figures we do have show an immigration and asylum system that is out of control,” he claimed. “Not only are the government missing their own, artificially hand-picked target of removing more failed asylum seekers than arrive but at the same time they are neglecting to deal with other crises - like the foreign prisoner debacle.”

Responding to the figures, Habib Rahman, the CEO of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), said it is not “cost effective” for the government to remove failed asylum seekers. The JCWI has proposed that immigrants living here for over seven years who have a good character should be allowed to stay in the UK. “It’s not cost-effective just to say that we have to remove people. It’s inhumane in one way towards the applicant, and it is impracticable because you can't send people to strife-stricken areas.” (