Today the Government has published its Immigration Bill, aimed at making life harder for migrants who are in the country illegally. The Bill is wide ranging and covers many issues which will not affect asylum seekers and refugees.
However, the Refugee Council is extremely concerned that some of the measures reported to be in the Immigration Bill will have detrimental and unintended consequences; penalising asylum seekers and refugees who have a legal right to live in the UK.
Some of the new proposals include requiring landlords and banks to check people’s immigration status. We think these measures are simply unworkable. Landlords and bank staff are not immigration officials and the types of documentation carried by asylum seekers and refugees is varied and complex.
These new measures will undoubtedly lead to wrongful denial of access to housing and bank accounts for those with a right to live in the UK, due to confusion about unfamiliar identity documents and fear of sanctions.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said:
Refugees and asylum seekers came to the UK escaping persecution. It is our responsibility to offer protection and a place of safety, not to discriminate and to marginalise them further.
The Immigration Bill threatens to put some of the most vulnerable people in our society at even greater risk.