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UK gets tougher on illegal immigrants
Tue, 03 Aug 2010 08:45:49 GMT
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Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in the 2006 riot
British Immigration Minister Damian Green says the country needs to improve its performance at deporting foreign criminals, as they have "no right" to be in the UK.

"It's important to make sure we remove people who have no right to be in this country," Green said during a speech at the opening ceremony of two new wings at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in western London.

The centre, which is the largest in its kind in Europe, has been upgraded to take in up to 630 of the UK Border Agency's "most challenging detainees" who have "committed serious offences" and are awaiting deportation.

"I believe foreign criminals should be sent home at the earliest opportunity," Green said. "Britain's not been good at removing people who aren't meant to be here."

The minister also pointed out that the country needs to be "no longer a soft touch" for illegal immigrants and that "the many failures in the asylum system will be tackled vigorously."

The detention facility had to be rebuilt after the detainees set it ablaze in November 2006.

Frustrated at being detained in awful prison-like conditions, often for long periods, a group of detainees started a riot which they later said was a result of guards preventing them from watching a TV report criticizing the center's management and poor conditions.

There were also claims that the detainees were beaten up in the facility.

The outraged detainees used sheets and clothing to spell out the words "Help", "Freedom" and "SOS" in the facility's yard.

"No-one wants to see a repeat of the fire we had in 2006 when clearly things had gone badly wrong," Green concluded.

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