Doctors, landlords, employers, bankers and DVLA staff are all expected to take part in checks for illegal immigrants under tough reforms dubbed “nasty” by human rights campaigners.
Unveiling the Government’s highly-anticipated Immigration Bill, Ministers said the changes will stop migrants abusing public services, deter illegal immigrants from coming to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here.
Key measures in the Bill will see temporary migrants, such as overseas students, pay to access the NHS in an attempt to tackle so-called “health tourism”, while the appeals process against deportation is to be streamlined.
Banks will be forced to carry out background checks to stop illegal immigrants opening accounts, while applicants for a driving licence would also have to prove they were in Britain legally.
The Opposition said the Bill would do nothing to tackle “increasingly shambolic” border controls, while campaigner Liberty said the new laws were a “race relations nightmare waiting to happen”.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: “After the racist van stunt, the Home Office again scrapes the barrel by turning landlords into immigration officers and scrapping appeal rights for the vulnerable.
“Fair and legitimate immigration rules have their place but this nasty Bill is a race relations nightmare waiting to happen.”
Maurice Wren, chief executive of the Refugee Council charity, said: “The Refugee Council is extremely concerned that some of the measures reported to be in the Immigration Bill will have detrimental and unintended consequences – penalising asylum seekers and refugees who have a legal right to live in the UK.”
Under the Bill, the number of grounds on which migrants can lodge an appeal is to be slashed from the current 17 to just four in a move drawn up in response to the 12 years it took to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada.
Private landlords will be required to check the immigration status of their tenants, while employers will face heavier fines if they take on staff who have no right to work in the UK.
Comment: Page 14.