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Illegal immigrants to face tougher laws

23rd Oct 2013

Illegal immigrants will find it more difficult to live in the UK under new planned laws, according to Home Secretary Theresa May.

Called the Immigration Bill, the new law would force private landlords to question tenants about their immigration status and restrict access to bank accounts for those in the country without permission.  It also seeks to streamline the appeals process for immigration cases.

Labour has reacted critically, saying that illegal immigrants will not be deterred because the bill does nothing about more pressing issues such as the “shambolic” state of border controls.

The bill is expected to become law in spring 2014, subject to approval from MPs.  It will include new measures allowing the UK to “deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later” when there is “no risk of serious irreversible harm”.

The BBC has reported that this may result in an increase in air fare costs for the Home Office, if they have to fly migrants back to the UK who are successful in their appeal.

A requirement in the bill is also included for temporary migrants, including overseas students, to make a contribution to the National Health Service (NHS) to prevent what is known as “health tourism”.

Other measures in the bill include new powers to check the immigration status of driving licence applicants and make it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties.  In addition, the Immigration Bill allows for clamp downs on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into “sham” marriages or civil partnerships.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “The Immigration Bill will stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here.

We will continue to welcome the brightest and the best migrants who want to contribute to our economy and society and play by the rules.  But the law must be on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it.”

Those critical of the plans include the Migrants’ Rights Network and the British Medical Association.  They argue that the measures are unworkable, and will make it harder for non-British people to enter the country or find housing even when they have a legal right to do so.