A border in every street

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 03 April 2014

Today, Part 3 of the Government’s odious Immigration Bill is back before the House of Lords. Chapter 1 seeks to introduce a new system of immigration control in the community – overseen by private landlords, of all people. This is just one part of a new regime of in-country immigration checks created by the Bill which, in addition to housing, will become a gateway requirement for access to banking, driving and even civil and religious marriage.

The proposals for landlords would not only lead to widespread discrimination and increase homelessness amongst some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It would also prove a costly, bureaucratic nightmare for private landlords. And we’re not the only ones who say so. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned that the provisions will heighten the risk of racial discrimination against ethnic minority would-be tenants – be it UK citizens or foreign nationals perfectly entitled to rent properties. Shelter says that domestic violence survivors, fleeing their home at short notice, will be among the worst affected by the Bill. Meanwhile the Residential Landlords Association has stated that more than 80 per cent of landlords oppose the plans – and that they’ll be understandably “bewildered” by the complexities of immigration law. And the Church of England predicts “a border in every street”.

That’s why we’re urging Peers today to support a series of amendments which would require the Government to carry out a pilot of the scheme first, and then produce an evaluation report for both Houses of Parliament. Nothing in the Bill currently requires the scheme to be piloted. Given how offensive and unworkable it is, and the detrimental impact it will likely have on ethnic minority house-hunters and landlords alike, an evaluated trial is surely the very least the Government can do.

 

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Liberty
Policy and Advocacy Manager