The British government plans to require immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria to be fingerprinted and photographed in order to get public services. The plan was announced Friday by the Department of Education, The Daily Telegraph reported as Mediafax informs. Immigrants would be given “biometric residence permits” that would also include a signature stored electronically. Immigrants from outside the European Union are already required to have the cards. Under EU law, Britain might have to extend the regulation to all immigrants.
A moratorium on immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, two of the newest members of the union, expires next year. Immigration from Eastern Europe has become an increasingly contentious issue. Recent census data shows that Polish-speakers are now the biggest foreign language group in Britain. Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, abandoned a proposal for amnesty for illegal immigrants because of the public backlash.On the other hand, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev argues in an interview for weekly German magazine Focus as cited by novinite.com that “unfortunately, Bulgaria and Romania are always used as a convenient excuse for the internal problems of our European partners.” Plevneliev claims that the concrete data must be studied first before such accusations are leveled. “Of the alleged 20 000 Bulgarian and Romanian Roma who moved to France, only 600 were from Bulgaria, and only 80 of them stayed in France illegally,” he points out. Bulgaria’s head of state admits that there is a problem with the Roma but notes that the issue must be very clearly defined.