Years of incompetence, and failure to plan for the effects of unprecedented immigration, has led to a crisis of public confidence that threatens Britainâ€™s historically liberal approach to immigration. We must recognise that we can only secure the substantial economic and cultural benefits of a liberal immigration policy if we make the effort to plan for the impact and consequences of that policy. But since the Tories and Labour abolished exit checks in the 1990s, we have no way of knowing how many illegal immigrants live here.
Liberal Democrats want an immigration system that works. A system that is firm but fair, which plans for the effects of managed legal migration and promotes integration. We believe in the benefits that immigration has brought this country but we do not believe our borders should be a soft touch.
Liberal Democrats would take control of our borders and immediately reintroduce entry and exit checks. Our National Border Force would have the power of arrest. We will bring unscrupulous employers and people traffickers to justice. We will offer families who have been here for years and want to pay taxes a route to citizenship, provided they want to work, speak English and want to commit to the UK in the long term. We would also introduce a Regional Points-Based Immigration System to ensure that immigration is targeted on areas that are under-populated and want more immigration, like Scotland.
We will make the asylum system, for those fleeing real persecution, fairer by taking responsibility away from the Home Office and giving it to a Canadian-style independent agency, which will substantially reduce the number of decisions overturned on appeal. We will end asylum-seekersâ€™ dependence on benefits by allowing them to work to support themselves and their families.