One of the biggest debates when it comes to immigration concerns the subject of immigration and crime. All residents and visitors are expected to follow the rules and laws. When residents, citizens, and documented immigrants violate these rules, they may face fines, jail time, and other punishments. However, many experts allege that some immigrants are exploiting the system and getting away with crimes. The debate is a concern both in the US and overseas in Europe.
Most recently, Home Secretary Theresa May in the UK has stated that criminals from other countries are abusing the system in order to avoid deportation and other penalties. As a result, May is introducing new policies to end what some call the exploitation of family rights. The right to family life allows foreign nationals to stay in the UK even if they have committed a crime. The right is protected by the European convention on human rights.
The decision to change the rules concerning family rights came after a consultation with the Home Office about article 8 of the European convention on human rights. The decision was made to look into the article after a number of high-profile cases created concern about the family rights issue. In one case, Joseph Lissa was found to have taken part in war crimes in Sierra Leone but used article 8 to stay in the UK because he had founded a family in the UK with a British woman. In another high profile case, Gary Ellis was found to have committed violent drug deals but was allowed to remain in the UK instead of being sent back home to Jamaica because of the right to family life.
The new rules change means that as of July 2012, article 8 will be applied only in “rare and exceptional” cases. The change has received wide-spread support. While many people support the idea that immigrants should be allowed to keep their families together, there is a concern that the right to family life can be abused by some criminals. It is possible that the new rules will be challenged by the court system, but since the move has so much support ministers are determined to support the new rules. Some ministers have expressed concerns that the old rules were used in such a way that they prevented the justice system from keeping criminals out of the UK. The new rules have so much support, in part, because they allow the country to deport terrorists and other criminals – even if those criminals have built a family in the UK.