HSMP Forum's Press Release

New Draft Immigration Bill Does Not Mean Retrospective Implementation

Dt – 16th November 2009

Although we support the government’s attempt to ensure proper implementation of immigration laws, we would like to point out that new rules should not mean retrospective implementation of the laws.

We understand the government’s concern in tightening the borders to keep out unwanted visitors who may not be an asset to the country’s economy. However, we would like to raise the concern that introducing new laws often results in targeting existing migrants who have been responsible tax payers and law-abiding residents.

Migrants enter the UK only after they get the ‘permission’ to do so. Migrants have to satisfy the  demanding nature of the authorities and the  particular requirements of the points based system before they can even think of building a life in the UK.

However, in view of the current economic climate, there could be instances of migrants losing their jobs and we believe that these circumstances must be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not they will be ‘permitted’ to continuously live in this country. 

The new shortage occupation list is to significantly reduce the number of foreign employees, which will affect many existing migrants’ immigration status. It is not justified on the government’s part to exercise its powers of expulsion indiscriminately especially if these migrants were unaware of the changing circumstances when they first made their application. For instance, many applicants who may have applied a couple of years ago would not have foreseen the subsequent changes in the shortage occupation list which could thwart their aspirations to continue to work and settle in the UK.

Amit Kapadia, Executive Director of HSMP Forum said, “As for a new bill that is expected to simplify the legal system for the government, past experience has shown that the new laws only complicate the system by making it more difficult to navigate through the bureaucratic red tape. It is our concern that the new draft bill, which intends to introduce the new streamlined power of expulsion, would further abuse human rights laws and would unfairly penalise honest and hardworking migrants just as the Citizenship and Immigration Act which was passed in July 2009 will do”.

“We are very concerned about the Prime Minister’s open statement on the government’s new attempts to defeat the existing case laws by introducing bills in the parliament to enforce new legislations, at times these new laws implemented by the parliament have seriously undermined basic human rights, time and again this would be considered as an abuse of democratic principles and of a fair and just system. This tendency to undermine the case laws will only project the executive’s lack of respect for the Judiciary and interference with the judicial system. The government by trying to impose another bill is intending to act in an undemocratic manner and would be suppressing the voices of migrants by not allowing them to challenge unfair and unreasonable changes in the court of law. The Prime Minister’s statement does not highlight the underlying issues that may result in such an action. Any retrospective action on existing migrants will warrant an outburst of protest and will force migrants to agitate against the unfairness of the system”.

Mr Kapadia further said, “As a leading representative for migrants’ rights in the UK, the HSMP Forum would like to have an ongoing engagement with the Home Office and the British Government about any changes to the immigration system that are brought in. We fully recognize the UK’s right to set and change the parameters that govern the conditions under which non-EU citizens can live, work and settle here.  However, we continue to insist that as for as the rights of migrants are concerned the following principles must continue to apply:

Legitimacy – regulations must conform to international and EU obligations with respect to human rights

Non-retrospectivity – changes should not materially affect the trajectories (towards permanent residence and citizenship) of individuals who have already begun their journey

 Non-discrimination – changes should not disproportionately affect citizens of some countries more than others

Fairness – that the costs of administering the system (financial or otherwise) should be borne equitably by all classes of migrants and migrants should not be forced to pay more than the operational costs in assessing their applications.

 We are convinced that these principles can easily be incorporated in a system that protects the UK’s borders but is also fair and easily understood”. 

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1)   NDS Home Office

2)      HSMP Forum website:  http://www.hsmpforumltd.com 

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