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UK’s ‘controversial’ bill aimed at tackling ‘illegal immigration’

Nov 12, 2015, 4:13 PM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent

The Conservative government in the United Kingdom headed by David Cameron is celebrating a vastly controversial bill aimed at tackling ‘‘illegal immigration’’, which was cleared following its first parliamentary snag.

Nonetheless, it had encountered a stiff and firm resistance from opposition MPs.

If finally accepted, there will be a new offence in terms of ‘‘illegal working’’ and landlords and property owners will carry out ‘‘checks’’ on would-be tenants.

Such ‘‘checks’’ include passport, visa, Identification card and document, as well as other recognised immigration status.

The law will, no doubt, have a knock-on effect and outcome on both Senegambians and other Africans living in the country. But immigration specialists are adamant that ‘‘so far there is no cause for alarm’’.

Even though the law is not yet recognised, some landlords have already started asking and demanding such ‘‘checks’’.

In order to verify the claims, The Point contacted a few landlords in London, and was able to confirm landlords and property owners demanding a routine verification.

This correspondent was told by landlords from four different boroughs in the City to confirm his identity, occupation and immigration status.

One landlord went further to ask for an appointment or job contract letter, as well as a guarantor as a precondition or requirement.

Such claims prompted both the opposition and civil liberty groups to cry foul. However, despite the criticisms, sometimes with an emotional and rather unsettling tone, the government is not backing down.

Home Secretary Therese May insisted that the measures would mean ‘‘greater fairness to British citizens and legitimate migrants...and to protect those who play by the rules’’.

Nevertheless, Labour argued that the ‘‘bill is unpleasant and insidious...driven by a desire to generate headlines and would do nothing to bring the government closer to its target of reducing net migration...’’

The Point further uncovered that people found to work illegally would face up to ‘‘six months in prison’’.

Furthermore, the police would be empowered to ‘‘seize wages as the proceeds of the crime’’ committed.

Nevertheless, like most countries in Europe, the UK is not immune to U-turns and reversals, and those affected are hoping for a turnaround or at least a diluted one that will make it easier for them to stay in the country.