The Home Secretary Theresa May today announced that the UK Border Agency is to be disbanded and split into two organisations: an immigration and visa service, and an immigration law enforcement organisation.
The new organisations will be brought within the Home Office, in order to ensure they are accountable to ministers and that their performance improves. Theresa May also said an immigration bill would be introduced in the next session of parliament.
In response, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“The Home Secretary is right that the UK Border Agency has had a ‘closed, secretive and defensive culture’. Only time will tell if the measures she proposes today will have a positive effect on the work of the Home Office, as it is still unclear whether structural changes will successfully address the root of the problem. If legislation is to be introduced, we would urge the government to ensure the system is straightforward for asylum seekers, as well as fair. For years we have tried to persuade the government that it needs to remove the vital role of protecting refugees from the dominant shadow of gatekeeping, and now is its opportunity to listen.
“While the political parties continue to argue over who is responsible for the chaos at the UKBA, there is little discussion of the people who have been waiting for months or years for a decision on their cases, with their lives on hold. We would urge the government to focus their attentions on building a fair, humane and effective asylum system, with the protection of people fleeing persecution at its centre.”