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New UK law targets illegal immigrants

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at 05/16/2014 10:21 AM | Updated as of 05/16/2014 10:21 AM

LONDON – The British government has passed a controversial new law to tackle its immigration issues by enforcing a more stringent system for migrant access to housing and services, targeting those who have no right to remain in the UK.

Under the Immigration Act 2014, illegal immigrants will be denied access to crucial services that would make it impossible for them to live a normal life in the UK. This includes compulsory immigration status checks for access to rental accommodation, driving license, and bank accounts.

The new law will also implement a clampdown on the immigration system itself, from dealing with sham marriages and civil partnerships, to reducing the numbers of visa application appeals, and more power for the Home Office to prevent repeat bail applications and revoke driving licenses of immigration offenders.

Furthermore, in a politically significant move, Parliament has instructed the courts to consider the national interest above and beyond the European Convention of Human Rights Article 8, which states a basic right to family life, a reason commonly used by migrants wishing to join loved ones who are already in the UK.

Crucially, the reforms will affect even legitimate migrants in the UK. The Home Office, for instance, will have the right to take away British citizenship of naturalized immigrants if they are found to be “seriously prejudicial to the interests of the UK,” though these would have to be under exceptional circumstances.

Temporary migrants with time-limited visas will also be subject to fees when accessing the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), which provides free healthcare for the vast majority of the UK population.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire described the new law as a “landmark” legislation.

“The Immigration Act is a landmark piece of legislation,” he said, “which will build on our existing reforms to ensure that our immigration system works in the national interest. We are already planning its implementation and will ensure these measures are introduced quickly and effectively.”