UNITED KINGDOM:IWA-GB Opposes Immigration Bill
THE Indian Workers’ Association Great Britain (IWA-GB) has taken serious note of the new immigration bill which proposes removal of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights that protects an individual’s right in regard to private and family life. If this bill becomes an act, the IWA-GB fears that it will add to the current legislative discrimination, further contribute to the breaking of families and deprive children of their parents’ love. The current legislation requires a British spouse to provide proof of an income of at least 18,600 pounds sterling before sponsoring his or her foreign spouse. This far exceeds the national minimum wage. One may note that even a high dignitary like the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nicholas, has criticised this unjust rule and asked the British government to urgently review it. Similarly, the number of grounds for an appeal has been reduced from 17 to just four. But any deportation of an individual from the British soil before hearing an appeal is discriminatory and this too violates the European Convention of Human Rights. The fear is that this rule will be used to unjustly punish migrant families. The IWA-GB has reminded that the background of the proposed bill is already being perceived as racist and discriminatory. If enacted into an act, it will only damage the race relations in Britain and will also contribute to damage Britain’s relationship with the non-European countries. The bill places an obligation upon the landlords, letting agencies, general practitioners (GPs), banks and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to check the immigration status of their potential customers and patients, thus requiring them to act as immigration officials. This proposal is not only not workable, it can also jeopardise a potential applicant’s case as the documentations they carry are varied and complex. This will put added pressure on overstretched GPs leaving them with reduced capacity to provide medical care to their patients. The proposed imposition of a levy of 200 pounds sterling on international students and tourists would only add to the financial burden and deprivation of these two immigrant groups. Foreign students are already overcharged and contribute 14 billion pounds each year to the British economy. In sum, the Indian Workers’ Association Great Britain believes that this bill threatens the immigrants’ freedom and liberty, would lead to deterioration in race relations, violates an individual’s human rights, and will create a hostile environment for present and future immigrants. The IWA-GB has therefore urged the UK government to withdraw this bill and to review the current immigration legislation that unjustly keeps families apart.