ID card centre captures first illegal immigrant

The first illegal immigrant has been caught at one of the government's new national identity card centres for foreigners.

The first illegal immigrant has been caught at one of the government's new national identity card centres for foreigners.

The man was caught out by fingerprint technology on the first day that an identity card centre for foreign nationals opened in Solihull.

Ranjit Singh, a 33-year-old Indian male, from Caddington in Luton, had applied to the UK Border Agency to stay in the country on the basis of a common law relationship with a British citizen.

He was required to attend the new centre in Solihull, West Midlands on 8 December.

Singh was electronically fingerprinted at the centre and this showed a possible match with a failed asylum seeker also called Ranjit Singh, aged 23.

The UK Border Agency's fingerprint specialists confirmed that the two "Mr Singhs" were one and the same person despite the different dates of birth.

Singh was then arrested by immigration officers and taken to Solihull Police Station for questioning. He admitted that he had previously made a bogus asylum application with a false date of birth.

He was charged with the offence of seeking leave to remain in the UK by deception, and appeared before Solihull Magistrates on 9 December where he pleaded guilty.

Singh was remanded in custody until 8 January 2009 when he will be sentenced at Warwick Crown Court.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith said, "Identity cards ensure that foreign nationals living, working and studying here legally are able to prove their identity easily - but they also make it much harder for people to use false or multiple identities.

"This case shows that the scheme is already working, and that with tough enforcement by UK Border Agency officials, those who don't play by the rules will be caught out."

Gail Adams, UK Border Agency regional director, said, "This instant result shows how effective identity cards will be in preventing immigration abuse. Individuals will be locked down to one identity through their facial image and fingerprints.

"Identity cards for foreign nationals will help us crack down on illegal working as they will give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant's right to work and study in the UK."

Foreign nationals from across the Midlands and east of England began to apply for identity cards on 8 December at the Solihull centre.

Identity cards will be mandatory for all foreign nationals and provide a simple secure means of proving a foreign national's right to work to businesses.

Companies will have to keep records of the migrants they have hired, including their contact details and a copy of their identity card.

Foreign nationals making applications to remain in the UK as a student or based on marriage will have their facial images and fingerprints recorded before being issued with identity cards.

All new foreign nationals and those extending their stay will have a card within three years. It is estimated that by the end of 2014-15 about 90% of all foreign nationals will have been issued with a card.

The Solihull centre is one of seven enrolment identity card centres for foreign nationals, with others opening in Croydon, Cardiff, Glasgow, Northern Ireland, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Video about the ID card scheme >>

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