Yesterday the committee stage of the Governments new immigration bill began. It is being pushed through parliament at an highly accelerated pace, not allowing time for adequate consultation and responses. This article will outline the main concerns surrounding the nature of the bill.
The main four issues the bill seeks to address are; housing, ‘health tourism’, automatic deportation and the abolition of most fundamental appeal rights. We believe the bill will adversely affect individuals and their families. This bill shifts much of the responsibility to police our borders to Landlords, Employers and Health Professionals. Some issues, especially the abolition of appeal rights, are basic human rights, e.g. the right to a family life, and are considered by many to be against international and national law.
We hope you agree that the above mentioned issues deserve further debate. Below are further details:
HOUSING– The bill, if passed, will require all private landlords to verify immigration status of potential tenants. Imagine yourself as a landlord being asked to consult an 89 page guidance pack, amongst other documents, and still risk a £3000 fine if a mistake is made. It is likely you would just ignore those applicants who do not hold a British passport, even if they have the right to residence in Britain. This will lead to inadvertent discrimination and a less cohesive society. We believe that decent and affordable housing is a human right and that the new immigration bill will jeopardise this by leading to a growth of rogue landlords and ‘beds in sheds’.
HEALTH- This part of the bill is to address supposed ’Health Tourism’, evidence of which at best, is founded on assumptions and incomplete data and at worst contradictory. The government’s own report on health tourism, undertaken by independent researchers, is wary of its own figures. It states that they are based upon “a large number of assumptions” and “incomplete data”.
Indeed there is contrary evidence to suggest that people who travel legitimately to the UK for treatment contribute hugely to the economy. Another change the bill will hope to implement is to place a levy, of £200, on students and other short term migrants, including those classified as passing the current ordinary residence test to help pay for their use of the NHS. Whilst Link Up (UK) do not disagree with the principle of charging temporary or very short-term visitors for use of the NHS, we stand against the practice of charging anyone twice for using the same service. Migrants and temporary residents already contribute to the NHS and general economy in exactly the same way as everyone else, through their taxes, National Insurance contributions or through the hefty international student fees they pay. This bill will end up twice-charging people who already contribute to the NHS, discouraging international students who are essential to the economy, and continue to send out a message of Britain being unwelcoming.
APPEALS– There are currently 17 forms of appeal against deportation this is being reduced to 4. Under the current appeal system between 40% and 50% of appeals are successful, it is easy to see how flawed the system is when you consider this rate. Leading legal figures have highlighted that by reducing this right of appeal the entirety of power will rest with parliamentarians and civil servants who may have a vested interest and the issue of human rights would be removed from the courts, which circumvents the judiciary’s role, namely, to act as one of the checks and balances in a democratic society. The bill is also trying to reduce the right to family life as an issue in the appeal process. This directly contradicts Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights and has been heavily criticised by British judges.
AUTOMATIC DEPORTATION– The bill will lead to the automatic deportation of any none British Citizens convicted of a 12 month prison sentence, whether or not they have spent most of their life in Britain or have been granted indefinite leave to remain.
Link Up (UK) believes that the Immigration Bill the in its current form will lead to increased prejudice and discrimination across the UK. We urge the government, the opposition and the Lords, but most of all YOU to consider the positive role migrants contribute not just to the economy but the NHS. As it stands this bill will create a more hostile environment and make the UK less attractive to business investors and the talented migrants the economy needs to compete in a global marketplace.
We hope this brief introduction to the bill has given you a sense of the scale of issues at stake here. As this bill is being rushed through the House of Commons right now the need to send a letter to your MP is especially urgent.
Please feel free to use this article as a basis to draft a letter. You can find your MP’s details here http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/
For further information on the progress of the bills passage through parliament please visit www.jcwi.org.uk