New Immigration Bill to create hostile environment for migrants

October 10, 2013

The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, in introducing the new Immigration Bill, said she intended to "create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants". The bill was read in parliament for the first time today with an accompanying media fanfare and headlines that helped introduce the 'tough' new rules. 

The Immigration Bill, once enacted into law, which is expected to receive Royal Assent in the 2014 Spring, will make it:

(i) easier to identify illegal immigrants by extending:
  • powers to collect and check fingerprints;
  • powers to search for passports;
  • powers to implement embarkation controls;
  • powers to examine the status and credibility of migrants seeking to marry or enter into civil partnership.
(ii) easier to remove and deport illegal immigrants by:
  • cutting the number of decisions that can be appealed from 17 to 4 – preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights;
  • extending the number of non-suspensive appeals. Where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, we should deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later;
  • ensuring the courts have regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires when considering Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights in immigration cases;
  • restricting the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail if they have previously been refused it.
  • (iii) more difficult for illegal immigrants to live in the UK by:
  • requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing;
  • making it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties;
  • prohibiting banks from opening current accounts for migrants identified as being in the UK unlawfully, by requiring banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening accounts;
  • introducing new powers to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status before issuing a licence and revoking licences where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK.
  • In addition the Bill also contains measures to:
  • introduce a new requirement for temporary migrants who have only a time-limited immigration status to make a contribution to the National Health Service;
  • give the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner new powers to better regulate the immigration advice sector, to protect migrants from exploitation and prevent spurious and inappropriate applications which waste public funds and delay the handling of immigration cases;
  • simplify the current fees legislation, which is spread across a number of different Acts, amending the criteria and process in regards to the Home Office’s ability to charge fees for immigration services.
Don Flynn, Director of the Migrants' Rights Network, said:
This is largely about creating a more hostile environment for migrants. The government seems to intend that migrants will have to go through all these difficulties of establishing their immigration on many different occasions when they are going through the routine business of life.