A new Immigration Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May 2015. It implements a number of policies in the Conservative party manifesto and further proposals from the Prime Minister’s immigration speech that took place immediately after the general election.
The UK is one of the most successful multiracial democracies in the world; because of that, more people want to come here than ever before. With increased demand comes a growing number of people willing to disobey our immigration controls and others who take advantage of vulnerable migrants by promising a better life but delivering the opposite.
A new director of labour market enforcement will bring better co-ordination to existing regulators and ensure that the enforcement effort is targeted to prevent exploitation. We are increasing the penalties for those who repeatedly employ illegal migrants as a source of cheap labour. And illegal workers themselves will be committing a new offence and their earnings will be seized.
To reduce demand for migrant labour further, the bill will establish a new ‘immigration skills charge’ that certain employers will have to pay if they wish to bring certain workers into the country. The funds raised will be used to develop skills in the resident labour market. The bill will also ensure that all front-line, public-sector workers can speak fluent English.
This bill will make it harder for people to settle in the UK when they have no right to do so, building on the Immigration Act 2014 to restrict access further to services for illegal migrants. Landlords will be able to evict illegal migrants more quickly, and access to driving licences and bank accounts will be further protected as services for only the lawfully resident population.
The bill will restrict the support we give to people whose claims for asylum have been unconfirmed, and their dependants, to those who are poor and face a genuine problem in leaving the UK. We are also simplifying the basis on which local authorities in England can support migrants without immigration status. We will continue to meet all of our obligations towards asylum seekers, refugees and children but equally we should be expecting illegal migrants to leave the UK rather than providing access to support.
The bill will make it easier to remove people who shouldn’t be in the UK by introducing new powers to tag foreign national offenders released on bail, and extending ‘deport now, appeal later’ certification powers to more immigration cases. We will also be equipping immigration officers with additional search and seizure powers to better enforce our immigration laws.
Why we need to legislate again
The Immigration Act 2014 put in place many effective measures intended to reduce illegal immigration and making it more difficult for illegal migrants to live and work in the UK. This bill builds on those measures. For example, the 2014 act ‘right to rent’ scheme requires landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.
This new bill provides landlords with additional routes to evict illegal migrants as well as creating new offences for corrupt landlords who continuously rent to illegal migrants. This bill also incorporates a number of new measures not covered under the 2014 act, for example, a raft of new measures to deny illegal migrants access to the labour market.
2.1Controlling migration to the UK
Measures in the bill make the UK a less attractive place for illegal migrants and those who seek to exploit them. But it’s just one part of our broader strategy for reducing net migration. As the Prime Minister has set out, we’ll improve our immigration and labour market rules, so we reduce the demand for skilled migrant labour and crack down on the exploitation of low-skilled workers, and we will renegotiate a new relationship with the European Union.
2.2Helping with the Syrian refugee crisis
The bill creates new powers to combat the facilitation of vulnerable migrants. But we should not look to primary legislation for solutions when our response can be quicker and simpler. The bill complements the immediate action we are taking to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees and further secure border control in Calais.
2.3Cost to general public
The costs of implementing measures in this bill are compensated by the benefits. The bill creates new powers and penalties that will allow immigration officers to work more efficiently in dealing with illegal migration and limit access to services for those with no right to be here.
3.What we’re going to do
- support working people, clamp down on illegal immigration and protect our public services
- focus on the exploitation of low-skilled workers and increase sanctions for those involved in such practices
4.How we’re going to do it
- introduce new sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers
- better co-ordination of regulators that enforce workers’ rights
- prevent those unlawfully in the UK from accessing housing, driving licences and bank accounts
- introduce new measures to make it easier to enforce immigration laws and remove illegal migrants
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
The message is clear — if you are here illegally, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive the everyday benefits and services available to hard-working UK families and people who have come to this country legitimately to contribute.
Whether it is working, renting a flat, having a bank account or driving a car, the new immigration bill will help us to take tougher action than ever before on those who flout the law.
This bill will build on the Government’s work since 2010 to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that truly benefits Britain – by deterring illegal migrants from coming and making it harder for those already here to live and work in the UK.