James Slack, London Daily Mail, July 13, 2007
Immigrants are “better citizens” than those born in Britain, a migration expert has said.
The extraordinary attack came from Keith Best, head of the Immigration Advisory Service—a government-backed charity which receives £13million of public money every year.
The former Tory MP was responding to an article in the Mail revealing that a foreigner is granted a UK passport every five minutes.
He said: “These people have actively sought British citizenship because they want to make a contribution to the UK.
Controversial: Keith Best, head of the Immigration Advisory Service, says immigrants are ‘better citizens’ than those born in Britain
“I am not sure how many people born in this country have the same commitment. The tests for citizenship are greater than they have ever been.
“We are now turning immigrants into better citizens than people born with a British passport.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group, said:”Mr Best’s comments are completely offensive to decent, patriotic people born in the UK.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding an outfit that describes them as being second-rate citizens.
“If the Immigration Advisory Service is to continue receiving public money, Mr Best should either apologise or resign.”
Immigrants who have been granted citizenship include cleric Abu Hamza, who was jailed last year for incitement to murder.
He was later stripped of the status after more than 20 years of using his British passport to call for the country’s destruction. The Immigration Advisory Service—which is paid by the Government to provide legal advice to asylum seekers and other migrants—has been given millions of pounds since Labour came to power.
In 2006 alone, its accounts reveal payments of more than £12.7million—almost £250,000 a week—from the Legal Services Commission, a quango tied to the Ministry of Justice. The Scottish executive handed over a further £386,000.
The IAS recently called for an end to restrictions on the number of Romanians and Bulgarians allowed into the country.
It has also demanded an amnesty for illegal immigrants, despite fears such a move would encourage those who plan to enter the country illegally.
Mr Best unleashed his attack in response to the revelation that more than a million migrants have been handed passports over the past decade—an average of 102,000 every year.
They include an unknown number of criminals, as even murderers and rapists are entitled to citizenship provided they complete a “clear period” without re-offending.
Those let in by Labour include July 21 bomb ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim, whose application was rubber-stamped despite a string of criminal convictions.
Critics said that Mr Best’s remarks were especially insulting, given that his organisation is paid taxpayers’ money to provide independent legal advice.
Its own website says: “The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) is the UK’s largest charity providing representation and advice in immigration and asylum law.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: “It is astonishing that a body which receives at least 90 per cent of its funds either directly or indirectly from the taxpayer should be insulting the British public in this way. Why are we paying them £250,000 a week?”
The row came as the Home Office defended the rate at which citizenship is being granted.
A spokesman said: “The Government strongly believes that the UK should encourage those that are settled in the UK to play a full part in their wider community and that the acquisition of British citizenship is a key part of a successful integration into society.
“The process to citizenship must be a gold standard. Anyone applying for citizenship must first meet the Government’s strict criteria.”