Immigration Bill introduced in Commons
The Immigration Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 10 October in a bid to tighten UK immigration legislation. Subject to Parliamentary progress, the Bill is expected to receive royal assent in spring 2014.
The Government has said that the purpose of the Bill is threefold:
- to reform the removals and appeals system, making it easier and quicker to remove those who are considered not to have a right to be here;
- to restrict reliance on Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life – by those seeking to stay in the UK;
- to restrict immigrants’ access to public services and the labour market.
The Bill therefore proposes to restrict the grounds on which foreign nationals can lodge an appeal opposing deportation. Currently, UK immigration laws provide 17 routes by which those facing deportation can appeal however, UK immigration officials plan to reduce these routes to just four.
It also proposes to restrict access to public services such as the NHS, prevent some immigrants from applying for a driving licence or to open a bank account and to make it more difficult to obtain a job or find accommodation, with landlords under a new requirement to check the immigration status of their tenants.
Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which the UK has ratified, makes clear that children must be protected from any form of discrimination and that their rights should be promoted irrespective of their race, nationality or immigration status.
The Bill has received widespread criticism. Responding to the Bill’s publication, Peter Grigg, Director of Campaigns and Policy at The Children’s Society, said:
The government have said this bill is about encouraging people who don’t have a legal right be in the UK to ‘go home.
But from our work with young refugees and migrants across the country, we know that for many children, returning home is just not possible.
Many are fleeing war and violence and others have been abandoned by their carers in this country. Some are victims of trafficking who have endured horrendous abuse. And for many undocumented children and young people, this is the only home they have ever known.
We work with many children and young people who have been made homeless and exploited as a result of immigration restrictions. This bill will make it even harder for these children to access vital services including healthcare and housing.
The government has a responsibility to protect all children, no matter where they were born or who their parents are, and it must take this responsibility seriously.
Read the Immigration Bill and explanatory notes.