x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

US security specialists to train immigration officials

Retired experts from the US National Security Agency will help train UAE immigration officers, the Ministry of Interior says.

Retired experts from the US National Security Agency will help train UAE immigration officers, the Ministry of Interior announced yesterday. John Morton, the US assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement, signed the agreement with Maj Gen Nasser al Minhali, the acting director of the ministry's Naturalisation and Residency Department.

The memorandum of understanding means the American security agency will host several training sessions here and in the United States on the latest technology and methods of protecting borders. The naturalisation department operates all UAE border crossings, and their agents process all applications for those wishing to enter or exit the country. Over the past six months, the department has increased its random checks of people's identity cards. It has also launched a series of raids to find illegal immigrants.

Many illegals immigrants cross the border on foot, officials say, looking for work that pays cash and requires no visa or other credentials. In one raid in Sharjah in December, more than 100 people were arrested for being in the country without permission. They have been charged with using fraudulent entry documents. Another raid the same month found 31 illegal Asian workers in a labour camp in Sharjah's industrial zone. They were hiding in cabinets and even inside a plastic barrel.

Police uncovered a "forgery kitchen" in the emirate which provided fake immigration documents for people who wanted to travel to Germany or Britain a short time later. More than 100 documents were seized. Illegal immigration is a federal crime, and offenders are subject to six months in prison and deportation. To prevent offenders from re-entering, facial biometrics and retinal scans are taken. @Email:newsdesk@thenational.ae