Calls for Home Office to end ‘harmful’ immigration checks
You may have seen in the news recently that over 60 MPs and campaign groups are pleading with the Home Office to stop immigration checks on bank accounts deemed to be ‘harmful’. A letter sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd warned that the new policy would block thousands of people from using banking services, whilst worsening the situation of people already facing troubling circumstances.
There are fears that the new checks would see thousands of people being wrongly branded as illegal immigrants, with the Home Office being accused of having an ‘abysmal track record’ when it comes to immigration checks. The policy, which is set to be implemented in January, has been described as ‘inhumane’. The letter was signed by figures including Labour MP David Lammy, the Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and human right campaign group Liberty. Concerns that the policy will have a substantial impact on BAME communities have been raised. There are fears that plans to suspend data protection for immigration enforcement could have significant ramifications for the entire UK population.
The new policy has been introduced as part of the Conservatives’ drive to produce a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants. Under the legislation, banks and building societies will be required to check 70 million current accounts every quarter. The legislation will mean individuals whose visas have run out, foreign nationals facing deportation and failed asylum seekers will have their accounts frozen and closed down. The Home Office predicts the policy will identify 6,000 illegal immigrants in 2018.
‘No place in a compassionate society’
Recent research carried out by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
found that one in 10 people refused accounts for reasons related to immigration were wrongly denied an account due to Home Office records. The letter says the new measures have ‘no place in a compassionate society’, adding ‘there is no evidence to suggest that they will achieve the stated aim of encouraging people without regular migration status to leave the country’. The Government have made multiple assurances that the data will be checked rigorously, though it is not known whether the Home Office database system has been improved since the ICIBI’s findings.
‘Arbitrary and Unfair’
Liberty advocacy director Corey Stoughton said the policy would leave innocent people being unable to buy food, pay rent or meet travel expenses, calling it ‘arbitrary and unfair’. No Borders in Banks campaigner Robin White said those affected faced ‘months of hardship’ whilst taking on the ‘notoriously slow’ Home Office complaints department. The Home Office responded to the letter, saying the measures were designed to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country voluntarily.
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At HS Lawyers, we deal with a range of matters related to immigration, including applications and appeals on sponsorship declarations, marriage and visitors’ visas, EEA applications, family reunions, extensions of stay, indefinite leave to remain and more. We offer an affordable advice and assistance on immigration matters and always present your case in the most robust manner possible, leaving no reason for your case to be doubted or refused.
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