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Immigration Bill: Our fight to prevent another Windrush Scandal

June 30, 2020 12:00 PM
By Christine Jardine
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats


We have tabled amendments to the Immigration Bill to dismantle the Conservatives' Hostile Environment.

Today, Priti Patel is pushing her damaging Immigration Bill through the House of Commons.

By ending EU free movement, the Conservatives would both make it harder for doctors and nurses to come to work in the NHS and charge them thousands of pounds in fees for the privilege.

They would make it virtually impossible to recruit social care workers from overseas. And they would hurt employers across the UK, just as they are working to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, they are doing nothing to dismantle the Hostile Environment, which has caused people who have every right to live in the UK to be wrongly denied healthcare, made homeless, detained and even deported - as the appalling Windrush Scandal showed.

We need a fair immigration system that everyone can have confidence in and that treats everyone with dignity and respect.

So Liberal Democrats are opposing the Tories' destructive plans and arguing instead for fair, effective and compassionate fixes to the system.

We have tabled a package of amendments to the Immigration Bill that would:

  • Require the Government to implement the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review in full before ending free movement, including a full review of all Hostile Environment policies.
  • Repeal the Right to Rent scheme, part of the Hostile Environment under which landlords face up to five years in prison for renting to someone without the necessary immigration status, and which has been proven in court to cause racial discrimination.
  • Give EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the automatic right to remain and require the Government to provide them with physical proof of their rights.
  • Repeal the immigration exception in the Data Protection Act, which enables the Home Office to collect and process personal information from other public bodies - such as schools, the NHS and the police - for the purposes of immigration enforcement without individuals knowing about it.
  • Lift the ban on asylum seekers working if they have been waiting for the Home Office to decide their claim for more than three months.

We are also supporting cross-party amendments that would:

  • End indefinite detention, which is inhumane, expensive and unnecessary.
  • Protect the rights of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family members in the UK.
  • Reduce the fee for registering a child as a British citizen from £1,012 to the actual cost of processing the application.
  • Give visa extensions to all the foreign nationals working in health and social care during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Exempt people coming to work in the NHS and social care from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge.

We owe it to the victims of the Windrush Scandal to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.

That's why, as Priti Patel pushes ahead with her disastrous plans to end free movement, Liberal Democrats are fighting to end the Hostile Environment and fix the broken immigration system.