The details of the Tories’ nasty new immigration bill were published on Thursday of last week.
All the changes will achieve is to make life more miserable for immigrants. Home secretary Theresa May says she wants to “create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants”.
The Tories plan to push the new bill through by 2014. It aims to make it easier to identify “illegal” immigrants.
The bill will extend powers to take fingerprints, check passports and intervene in weddings and civil partnerships.
It will introduce provisions demanding that people such as students with a time-limited immigration status pay a levy to the NHS. This is proposed to be £200.
It will demand that banks check immigration status before opening an account. Driving licence applicants will also be checked.
Introducing controls like these is an attack on everyone’s rights.
Probably the most damaging measure in the bill is its new deport first, appeal later policy, and the reduction in grounds for appeal from 17 to four. This especially affects migrants who have fled countries for their own safety.
The Home Office says these migrants should now appeal once they are back in the country that they say will put them in danger.
It claims that it would not deport when there is real danger, but its record is not good.
At the height of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2002 it published a “white list” of safe countries, including Sri Lanka. More recently it has told LGBT people in Uganda to hide their sexuality.
The bill was going to insist that private landlords checked the immigration status of tenants.
However after objections that this would increase homelessness, this will now only be enacted in a limited area.
Most of the measures are petty and vindictive, aimed at the Tory right who might defect to Ukip.
The issues they are supposed to address like “health tourism” exist mainly in their imagination.
Even the European Commission criticised the government this week, saying it has consistently refused to give any evidence about its claims of “benefit tourism”.
The Commission has produced a report showing that unemployed migrants within Europe claim only a small portion of benefits.
The Home Office complains of “almost 70,000 appeals heard every year. The winners are foreign criminals and immigration lawyers.”
But only 1,888 people threatened with deportation for committing criminal offences appealed under the Human Rights Act last year.
It doesn’t appear to occur to the Tories that the other “winners” might be people who are appealing against unjust decisions.
Many people win appeals even under the existing system, which is enormously skewed against them.
Socialist Worker believes that there should be no immigration
controls. The new bill will make things worse for all ordinary people.