Immigration Bill

Written evidence from Madeline Park (IB 23)

Pre-verse) I am writing on behalf of myself, my non-EU husband, our unborn baby and a number of others I know in the same position as us. Although I have concerns with the way immigration as a whole is being handled at the moment, I will do my best to limit my opinions to the specific bill at hand.

1) I am concerned with a number of things the new Bill proposes. I will start with the way it will burden landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants. Firstly, I do not believe this is the landlord’s responsibility. It is up to authorities to check the immigration status of individuals, not lay people such as landlords. Furthering this point, Immigration law is incredibly complex and difficult for those even well read upon the subject, it is unfair to expect landlords to learn and understand the details of immigration laws when the average lay person may not be able to work their way through its complexities. This, I believe, will also lead to an unnecessary and unacceptable increase in racism; landlords may shy away from renting to ethnic minorities or those with a non-British accent. Even with procedures in place to prevent this kind of discrimination, it is highly possible many landlords will take a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude to renting to non-british people.

2) The next concern I am going to raise is the proposition of enforcing a charge for the NHS for immigrants. Although I understand the idea behind this proposition, I think it could lead to some people in need not having the access to health care they need. As far as I am aware, the EU commission has recently released a statement regarding some people’s views on ‘benefit tourism’ explaining that as far as they could see, there had been no evidence to support such a theory. I think, if this were to go ahead, there would have to be a clear definition on who exactly was entitled to free health care, and who had to pay a fee. For example, some immigrants, though on a temporary visa may be working and paying taxes into the system. It would therefore be unfair to then ask them to pay a further fee to access health care. For example, those immigrants in the UK on an EEA Family Permit, or those with a 5 year Residence Card, are permitted to work and they pay tax on their salary like every other worker. It would be unfair to then ask them to pay to access health care, when they are essentially already paying for it.

3) My third concern is reducing the right of appeal. It seems to me that this is a way for the UKBA to get away with more than they should be able to. There is a high percentage of appeals that are accepted and allow entry/continuation of stay in the UK, that the UKBA would otherwise have not allowed. I think putting all, or most, of the power with one governmental body reduces the chance of those entitled to be in the UK being fairly allowed to challenge a decision that may well be overturned on appeal. This is a particularly high concern at the moment as it appears there is some kind of war on immigration that is making it harder and harder to get in or remain in the UK. Immigration has repeatedly been praised by many experts, insisting it is vital to economy and social acceptance and tolerance (of which is unfortunately not very high in many areas of the UK).

4) Finally, as an end note, I would like to express my general concerns with the current way immigration law is being handled. It appears the government, with fuelling from the media, are giving immigrants a bad name. I, personally, am British and my husband is Egyptian. He has, despite never having claimed benefits and working hard to provide for his family, been discriminated against. Either way he cannot win, he is either "here taking British jobs" or "here to take benefits and free health care away from British people." I think it is important the government work towards getting rid of this mentality that immigration is a negative thing and we should in fact embrace the diversity. I do understand the need to control immigration, but I think, as someone who has been personally affected by it, it is being handled disgracefully at the moment.

Thankyou for your time and I trust in you to do what is best for the British public and the legal UK immigrants. 

November 2013

Prepared 8th November 2013