The Immigration Bill: creating a hostile environment for all migrants – and Brits too

Ruth_webThe new Immigration Bill will have its Second Reading in the House of Commons today. Ahead of that, Migrants Rights Network’s Policy Director Ruth Grove-white has released a short summary of the proposed measures, which lays out our key concerns about the Bill.

The new Immigration Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 10 October 2013, and is now making its way through Parliament with the second reading in the House of Commons scheduled for today, 22 October.

My colleague Awale has given a summary of the passage of the Bill, including how you can get involved in campaigning on the Bill, here. We urge all people in London who are concerned about the Bill to come to the Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) public demonstration on College Green (opposite the Houses of Parliament) tomorrow morning (Tues 22 Oct) at 10.30am. 

Overall, the key measures in the Immigration Bill include introduction of new in-country enforcement mechanisms, including restricting irregular migrants’ access to private housing, bank accounts and driving licenses in the UK and restrictions on access to appeals, particularly for some migrants facing removal from the UK. It also introduces a new ‘health charge’ for temporary non-EEA migrants living legitimately in the UK (family migrants, students and workers) with the aim of increasing their contribution to the costs of NHS care.

We think that the measures in this Bill would be unfair, largely unworkable, and would embed suspicion of migrants across local communities. Co-opting private landlords, bank tellers and DVLA staff into the business of checking immigration documents will inevitably result in racial discrimination against some migrants and ethnic minority British citizens. This would also, in the case of housing, make irregular migrants more liable to exploitation by criminal landlords in the UK.

Efforts to reduce access to justice for migrants by removing the right of appeal for most immigration decisions will mean that poor decision-making by the Home Office goes unchallenged and will potentially lead to an increase in people remaining in the UK without status. The introduction of a new health charge would particularly impact on some vulnerable or lower-paid groups of migrants coming to the UK.

This Bill represents a reckless and damaging strategy that will have widespread impacts within local communities and is unlikely to contribute in any way to a reduction in irregular migration in the longer term. We all now need to work to make sure enough MPs feel briefed and supported enough to stand up and oppose it.

The Briefing can be downloaded here.
This item was first published on Migrants Rights Network website on 21 October 2013.