Monday, 21 October 2013

Immigration Bill 2013/14

The Immigration Bill 2013/14 is now available to view on the Home Office website. The Bill aims to make it much more difficult for migrants to settle in the UK with the changes seriously affecting the social and legal rights of asylum seekers.

Part one of the Bill, as well as Schedules one and two, enlarges state powers to search individuals and premises, as well as record, use and retain biometrics.  

Part two of the Bill amends the right of appeal, drastically reducing the number of appeal rights that currently exist, form seventeen to four. Under the new Bill an appeal case will only be possible if it involves a human rights claim; where someone says that they need humanitarian or asylum protection; where such protection has been provoked and where someone has the right to remain under EU law. The four categories of appeal do not account for situations where there has been a factual error which has led to the decision.

Time-limited immigration status under the bill will have to make a contribution to the National Health Service, a subject which has been heavily criticised. The Charity Doctors of the World UK have condemned the new laws relating to the access to the NHS as “unethical”, with the danger of penalising those who are most vulnerable. DOTW, while acknowledging that it may make sense for groups like tourists to contribute to health costs, they have stated that there is no economic argument to impose such a levy on these vulnerable groups.

Landlords under the new bill will be liable to a civil penalty of up to £3000 if they rent their premises to residents who do not have legal status. The bill essentially is turning landlords into immigration officers when they are not trained to deal with the complexities of the system, with over 400 types of documentation. Surely the measure to have landlords check the immigration status of residents will just create circumstances where they look to not to rent to anyone who is not British to avoid the risk of being held liable.

Part four introduces stricter investigations into “sham marriages” and civil partnerships and extend powers for information to be shared by, and with, registration officials. Marriages and civil partnerships will be referred to the Home Office to be investigated.

The proposed Immigration Bill 2013/14 will make the UK a much more hostile environment for migrants, a situation which liberty director Shami Chakrabarti has described as a “race relations nightmare waiting to happen”. The changes that the Bill plans to impose are not just “nasty” but also is lacking in ethical or financial justifications. 

On the 22nd October 2013 there will be a protest against the New Immigration Bill opposite the House of Commons in London at 10:30am. This protest is scheduled for the day of the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons, and is a demonstration against the infringement on the social and legal rights of migrants. 

Hannah Conway

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