Citing the case of an illegal immigrant who could not be deported because he had a pet cat, Ms May said: “I can today announce that I will change immigration rules so the right to a family life no longer prevents the deportation of people who should not be here…
“The right to a family life is not an absolute right and it must not be used to drive a coach and horses through our immigration system… when foreign nationals are convicted of a criminal offence or break immigration conditions, when they should be removed, they will be removed.”
She said the change was part of a wider package of measures to bring immigration down from the hundreds of thousands a year under a Labour government, to tens of thousands under the coalition.
She also cited reforms to student visas, a cap on economic migrants, and the end of automatic settlement rights as part of the package.
The home secretary also tackled the causes of the riots and police cuts in her keynote speech at the Conservative conference, saying the government would publish a new strategy on gangs at the end of the month.