It's a tough time to be an illegal immigrant in the UK. This isn’t by accident, the Conservative government has attempted to create what it calls a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in the UK. This so-called “hostile environment” has resulted in difficult conditions for many people who are in the UK without relevant documentation. This was brought sharply into focus recently with the “Windrush scandal” - this scandal mainly affected migrants who had come from the Commonwealth to the UK in order to set up a new life for them and their families, and contribute to the UK’s rebuilding efforts after the Second World War. But this isn’t the only effect, and in this article, we are going to look at the wider effects of recent immigration rule changes that may affect undocumented migrants in the UK.
The so-called “hostile environment” policy set up by now Prime Minister Theresa May in her previous job of Home Secretary, set many conditions in place that meant it would be difficult for illegal immigrants to access services that they may need in order to conduct a normal life in the UK. The policy was intended to make life tougher on illegal immigrants by insisting that banks, landlords, the NHS and other government services could not be accessed without appropriate ID checks taking place.
These changes lead to the “Windrush scandal”, whereby Commonwealth citizens who had travelled to the UK legally, were being refused access to the NHS and in many cases even lost their jobs because they could not prove their eligibility to remain in the UK. Many of those who travelled to the UK were never issued any form of proof that they were eligible to stay and the Government has made the most of the opportunity to try and remove people from the UK. Due to the scandal, many of the policies have now been repealed, and those who need ID are finally receiving it, but there are still many people living in fear of changes that may come in the future.
At this stage it is pretty difficult to imagine what changes are likely to take place in the future. Brexit is going to be huge in terms of Britain changing the rights of immigrants (legal and illegal) and so far there is little in the way of detail to show what the Government will do long-term. It is likely that with the current Conservative government, the focus will remain on the reduction of immigration to the UK. This reduction has been an ever present manifesto pledge from the Conservatives and seems unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
We do know that several schemes that currently exist are likely to come to an end - EEA Permanent Residence for instance has already been slated to be repealed and at present there is no alternative in place. There will also likely be a large reduction, or indeed complete removal of freedom of movement for EEA citizens in the UK. This is likely to be a large sticking point between the UK and the EU negotiators who are currently fleshing out Britain’s unexpected exit from the European Union. What is likely is that times aren’t going to get better for illegal immigrants living in the UK anytime soon.
Britain’s relationship with immigration is a complicated one - on the one hand, it is well known that immigrants contribute significant amounts of revenue to the UK (though some may question this) and that the UK’s growing economy is bolstered in no small part by workers who have moved to the UK. The UK has a low birth rate (like many other western countries) and is likely to struggle to supply workers in the long-term. With this in mind it seems entirely sensible that foreign workers are allowed to come to the UK to pick up the slack. Where this goes wrong is when ideology becomes involved. The right-wing of British politics has politicised immigration to such a point that even facts such as the amount of money contributed by immigrants seems to disappear and be replaced by negative stereotypes and misinformation that informs the British public badly and creates a negative atmosphere.
The UK has benefited significantly from inward migration and it is often down to public perception that the UK is not more open to immigration (legal or illegal). It is understandable that a country wants to know who is in it for all number of reasons. That is why the UK’s approach to immigration needs a drastic change, and we can only hope that Brexit may fix that, though it seems unlikely.
If you are currently in the UK illegally, we would, of course, advise you to rectify your situation at the earliest possible opportunity. In the modern age, it is almost impossible to live an untraceable life in the UK and we would urge against that approach as it is not the right way to live. Most people have some options when it comes to legally living in the UK and if you would like to discuss your options without having to worry about repercussions, please get in touch with our immigration specialists who can help with your case and will hopefully be able to offer you some potential solutions to your current predicament.
If you need more help with illegal immigration or indeed any other immigration query, please get in touch and our expert immigration specialists will be happy to try and help you in any way that they can. We understand that your situation may be complicated - but we can help. So for more information, or to begin using our services, please get in touch today.