UK Border Agency ‘discriminates against Pakistanis’

By Ian Dunt

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) may be guilty of breaking the Race Relations Act, its watchdog has found.

John Vine, who was appointed to oversee the organisation in two years ago, said staff applied a higher requirement for entry from Pakistanis than they did from countries which were members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, such as Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“I believe this means that the UK Border Agency was not only failing to be open and transparent about their approach towards customers, but also may be discriminating unlawfully in favour of Gulf Cooperation Council customers and against Pakistanis,” he said.

“I believe the UK Border Agency must take immediate action to ensure it is acting in compliance with its duties under the Race Relations Act 1976.”

Mr Vine also pointed to inconsistent visa decisions and varying evidential requirements as evidence that the decision making process within UKBA is unreliable.

Immigration minister Damian Green backed the UKBA.

“Our tough checks are there not to target genuine applicants but those who try to obtain a visa through fraudulent means,” he said.

“That is why we will continue to work closely with the government of Pakistan to stamp out any abuse, and why we take a risk-based approach to decision-making, giving extra scrutiny to those countries where historically fraud has been higher.”

The row comes a day after more questions were raised about the government’s proposed cap on non-EU immigration, with the Commons’ home affairs committee saying it would be ineffective and economically counter-productive.