- The infamous and controversial policy of a ‘Hostile Environment. ‘ introduced by the Ex-Home Secretary, Theresa May has been reinstated.
In January 2018, the government announced that the Bank Accounts of people suspected of living in the UK without proper status or illegally will be suspended or closed.
This policy of government created a lot of confusion and became very controversial.
This policy backfired because of ‘The Windrush Scandal. ‘The background of the Windrush is that it is the name of a ship that brought West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948.
In 2018 under the ‘hostile environment policy,’ an unknown number of people were detained and lost their jobs and houses. They were denied benefits and medical care to which they were entitled & This was done during the campaign and crackdown on the immigrants suspected of living without proper papers. According to the overzealous, Immigration enforcement officers, these people failed to provide enough proof of living in the UK legally. Eighty-three cases were wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office.
Twenty-three people have died since this saga, mainly due to the ignorance and thoughtlessness of the policymakers at the time. Consequently, the Home Secretary had to resign, and the deportees were returned to the UK. A compensation scheme was announced.
The compensation scheme of this scandal is so slow and ineffective that we are still dealing with the cases of some victims.
- The reliability of the government’s claims to distinguish accurately between people living in the UK legally and those without the correct immigration status was challenged.
Because of this situation, the Home Office acknowledged that the government had misclassified the status of the Windrush generation as living in the UK illegally.
Therefore, given this development, the government suspended the policy of closing the Bank account of suspected illegal immigrants. It was announced by the Home Office that, “It is correct, in light of Windrush, that we review existing safeguards to ensure that those who are here lawfully are not inadvertently disadvantaged by means put in place to tackle illegal immigration.”
- After a gap of five years, this policy has been relaunched once again to close the current accounts of suspected immigrants. A new data-sharing agreement with the financial sector has been made.
This initiative is part of the package of measures designed to deter illegal migration and illegal working by making it harder for people without confirmed immigration status to be paid. Further, the Home Office said,” Making it more difficult for unlawful migrants to access financial services is an essential tool to help deter illegal immigration.
- As an Immigration law practitioner, I have little faith and trust in these safeguards.
As we know, the Bank staff have neither training nor knowledge to check the immigration documents of their customers or to access their immigration status in the country.
However, Banks and Building Societies must check their current account holders against these lists. The Bank account will only be closed when the Home Office has made a further manual check to ensure the customer is in the UK without permission to stay.
I doubt very much that in the current environment when the whole government is running a campaign against illegal immigrants. The checking system can work properly and efficiently.
On top of that, the government has dropped several vital reforms recommendation made in the wake of ‘Windrush scandal’ I am sure many innocent people will be penalised for this adventure.
- Given all these circumstances, I suggest that undocumented immigrants take legal help and advice.
With proper legal advice, they can explore the possibilities and options of returning to the Home Office system to have some acknowledgment letter in their pocket to prove that they are not illegal in the country.
There are a lot of provisions under Appendix FM, Article 8 with a right of family and private life, Human Rights, Exceptional circumstances, and Unjustifiable harsh consequences, if removed from the country, are available to all undocumented immigrants. I am sure these ruthless measures will bring more misery to the immigrants struggling to live legally in this country.
It is better to get your circumstances accessed, and if someone can prove or alleges that their Removal/ Deportation will breach and violate their human rights should apply to the Home office.If refused, they can be given the right of appeal.
The Immigration Judges are more considerate and polite than our Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, who is trying to prove that they are more “loyal than the king himself.”