A new bill that will stop illegal immigrants from opening bank accounts in Britain is to be introduced today, as part of a strategy to force those who have no legal right to stay in the country to leave.
The Government’s centrepiece Immigration Bill, which has been described by campaigners as a “nasty” piece of legislation, will also see immigrants charged for using the NHS.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “We will be asking for a surcharge, there will be a sort of levy on people who are going to be coming here, to be staying for a while, to contribute so people can feel it is fair.
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“One of the things the NHS has always been quite bad at is charging people who they should be charging, people who don’t have the right to free access to the NHS and recovering those costs from them,” she told BBC Breakfast.
Under the Government’s centrepiece Immigration Bill banks will have to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening accounts.
Elsewhere, the bill will slash the number of grounds on which migrants can lodge an appeal, from the current 17 to just four – a move drawn up in response to the 12 years it took to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada.
And, as previously disclosed, a new requirement will be introduced for temporary migrants such as overseas students, to make a contribution to the National Health Service.
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 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.”
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: “After the racist van stunt, the Home Office again scrapes the barrel by turning landlords into immigration officers and scrapping appeal rights for the vulnerable.
“Once more headline-grabbing gimmicks trump tackling departmental delays, and public fears are stoked instead of calmed by putting the house in order.
“Fair and legitimate immigration rules have their place but this nasty Bill is a race relations nightmare waiting to happen.”
The Immigration Bill will aim to curb the number of migrants who block deportation using Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a private or family life.
But shadow immigration minister David Hanson said the legislation would do nothing to tackle “increasingly shambolic” border controls.
“The number of foreign criminals deported has dropped by over 13% since the election, border checks have been cut with only half as many people stopped and illegal immigration has got worse.
“Yet there seems to be nothing in the promised Bill to tackle problems at border control, which is getting increasingly shambolic, nor deal with long delays in getting electronic checks in place, or the UKBA bureaucratic failings that have prevented foreign criminals being deported.
“Nor are they tackling exploitation in the labour market which raises greatest public concern. For example the Bill is an opportunity to tackle problems such as enforcement of the minimum wage which would respond to concerns about the impact of EU migration.