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UK asylum seekers are to be electronically tagged as part of plans to introduce tougher immigration controls announced by the Home Office yesterday.

The government is putting forward electronic tagging as an alternative to detention for those unable to offer suitable sureties in immigration control cases. Enabling powers to introduce tagging or tracking are to be included in the forthcoming Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Bill.

The Home Office said that "electronic monitoring will allow the release on bail or temporary release of people... who would otherwise have been detained", such as individuals whose asylum applications have been rejected.

The tag itself might feature satellite technology to monitor the soon-to-be-deported. Home Secretary David Blunkett said tracking of asylum seekers by satellite could be introduced within a year to 18 months.

Plans to equip asylum seekers with the kind of technology that has previously been reserved for criminals have thus far been overshadowed by proposals to stop the benefits of asylum-seeking families who refuse offers of "voluntary" removal from the UK. By stopping the benefits of families when their asylum applications are rejected, the proposals open the way to take children from affected families into care.

Opposition politicians and civil liberties groups have criticised this aspect of the government’s plans as contrary to existing childcare laws.

The Bill, which is designed to prevent organised criminals from abusing the immigration and asylum system and to streamline the appeals and removals process in asylum cases, is explained in greater depth here. ®

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