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Former Gurkha soldiers make court challenge to UK immigration policy

[JURIST] Five former members of the Brigade of Gurkhas [official website; BBC backgrounder] began arguments Tuesday in the High Court in London against an immigration policy that has precluded thousands of retired Nepalese members of the British Army from remaining in the UK. In 2007, a Ministerial Announcement [press release; explanatory memorandum, PDF] provided that all Gurkhas retiring on or after July 1, 1997 would be offered "the choice of discharge in Nepal or in UK." Gurkhas who retired from service prior to July 1997 - the year that the Gurkha base was moved from Hong Kong to the UK - are required to apply for visas, which are commonly denied because the applicants are not considered to have adequate ties to the UK. Lawyers for the former soldiers plan to challenge the policy as discriminatory under the Race Relations Act [text] and Article 14 of the EC Treaty [text], the Guardian reports [text]. BBC News has more.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been pressured to take a firmer stance against immigration [The Times report] throughout his brief term. In 2006, the government Home Office [official website] announced plans to overhaul Britain's immigration system [press release; JURIST report] in a review [PDF text] outlining how the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate [official website] will respond to the impact of globalization, changing travel patterns and evolving international crime and terrorism. In addition to cracking down on employers hiring illegal immigrants [JURIST report], Brown's Labour Party is also pursuing plans to institute a national ID card system [JURIST news archive].

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