ALIEN NATION? NEW IMMIGRATION CHANGES LEAVE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS OUT IN THE COLD

26 June 2014

WHEN Phil Collins sang ‘it’s no fun being an illegal alien’, one would have hoped he was highlighting the plight of those who find themselves living in a foreign country without legal status.

Unfortunately, the instantly forgettable 1983 Genesis song ‘Illegal Alien’ was widely panned for its offensive and stereotypical depiction of immigrants and disappeared without a trace after peaking at number 46 in the UK charts.

One can only speculate as to what Mr Collins – a card carrying Conservative supporter – would make of the current UK government’s stance on the issue of immigration, as evidenced within the proposed Immigration Act 2014, which came into force in May.
The Immigration Act 2014 contains 77 clauses and makes fundamental changes to how the UK’s immigration system functions.
It will also restrict migrant’s access to healthcare, social housing, education as well as other basic public services which most of us take for granted.

In Northern Ireland – where immigration has not been devolved to Stormont - there exists a considerable section of the population who will be affected by the new legislation. At HHD Solicitors we would encourage anyone in this situation to contact us for advice as your human rights may be affected by the new legislation.

The majority of ‘illegal aliens’ in the UK are those who have either overstayed their period of leave or those who have had their asylum applications refused and are given temporary admission.

The Home Office will consider granting temporary admission where a person has failed in their application and is unable to return home, for any number of reasons. They are usually subject to weekly reporting conditions and are advised that they are liable for removal at any time. The problem lies in the fact that, in many cases, those granted temporary admission may not be in a position to return home for years, if ever.

In some cases, those people may be entitled to financial and housing support under sections 4 and 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, but only if they can prove they are destitute. However, the new legislation will make this even hard to obtain by imposing a much stricter test for destitution.

Those who are not entitled to support are left to fend for themselves, without access to the basic public services, often with young children to support. They are required to exist by living outside normal society, unable to work or even to open a bank account.
They are advised that access to those services will remain limited until such time as they submit a further application for leave to remain, either on humanitarian grounds or on the grounds of their Article 8 right to a private and family life, or for medical reasons in accordance with their Article 3 rights.

Those applications start at £600 and can often run into thousands of pounds, based on the number of dependents included. They also take time to prepare and should be prepared by a solicitor or immigration advisor, adding further cost to the applicant.
Those who are either saving up to make their applications, spending time preparing them or simply waiting for the right time to make one, remain in a precarious position, effectively living in a state of limbo.

No, Mr Collins, it’s no fun being an illegal alien.
Have you been affected by any of these issues? Are you being denied access to healthcare, education or housing? Call HHD Solicitors today on 028 90 770770 and make an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors.

1.Healthcare

THOSE without valid leave are generally not entitled to primary healthcare, save for emergency NHS treatment at accident and emergency.

If they do receive emergency treatment at a hospital, it is likely they will receive an NHS bill which could be thousands of pounds.

GP surgeries will often advise new or existing patients - who are not legally resident – that they cannot be registered with their practice until such time as they have a valid period of leave or have submitted an application.

We were recently contacted by a Ukranian national who has been on temporary admission for seven years and who had been told by her local health trust that she was not entitled to re-register with her former GP.

The young mother of two had advised the trust that she was seven weeks pregnant with her third child and was concerned that she would not receive the required pre natal and ante natal care throughout her pregnancy.

She was told that she could access this care - if she submitted a new application. She advised us that she could not do this for the foreseeable future due to limited finances.

2.Education

UNDOCUMENTED migrant children are not entitled to a post-16 education – no matter how long they have been in full-time education in the UK.

Furthermore, the new legislation places an increased duty on schools to check the immigration status of any new pupil applying for a place at their establishment.

Under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, where there are children involved, the Home Office have a duty to primarily consider the best interests of the child when making any immigration decision. The UK government are also signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

However this does not appear to be the case when it comes to ensuring those children have access to full time education.

3.Housing

MIGRANTS who are not ordinarily resident are not entitled to social housing, leaving them vulnerable to rogue landlords and exploitative relationships.

Under the new bill, landlords are now required to check the immigration status of any prospective tenants.

In reality, obtaining rented accommodation is already extremely difficult for illegal migrants – few have the income and references required.

However the changes will further discourage legitimate landlords from offering accommodation to illegal migrants.

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