Key UK panel for clarity on Indian, non-EU students, illegal migrants
The home affairs committee of UK Parliament called on the Theresa May government to drop the Conservative Party’s target since 2010 of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands” per year.world Updated: Jan 15, 2018 19:01 IST
The influential home affairs committee of UK Parliament on Monday added its voice to growing consensus that Indian and other non-EU students shouldn’t be considered migrants, saying the “hostile environment” policy for illegal migrants is not working.
The cross-party panel called on the Theresa May government to drop the Conservative Party’s target since 2010 of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands” per year, and favoured adopting different approaches to different types of immigration.
“(At) a minimum, the Government should immediately remove students from the current net migration target,” the committee said in a report. It called for policy clarity and the United Kingdom adopting a Canada-style model that includes setting out an annual migration report.
Committee chair Yvette Cooper (Labour) said: “Immigration has always been an important part of our history, economy and culture and will continue to be a crucial policy area for our future.
“We cannot stress enough how important it is to prevent escalating divisions, polarisation, anger or misinformation on an issue like immigration. To fail to respond risks doing long-term damage to the social fabric, economy and politics of our country.”
As part of the government’s policy to create a “hostile environment” for illegal migrants, bank accounts of such individuals are to be frozen from this month. Employers and landlords have already been tasked to carry out immigration checks.
The policy’s aim is to deter people without permission from entering the UK and to encourage those already here to leave voluntarily. It includes measures to limit access to work, housing, healthcare and bank accounts, to revoke driving licences and to reduce and restrict rights of appeal against home office decisions, the committee noted.
However, people with valid visas too were affected by the policy, the report said.
“While the hostile environment is currently aimed at non-EU nationals without valid leave to be in the UK, there are regular reports of people with a lawful right to be here (including UK and EU nationals and non-EU nationals with valid leave) being caught up in the system, often via errors in an application process or problems with data retained by the Home Office,” the report said.
“We are concerned that the policy is unclear and, in some instances, too open to interpretation and inadvertent error…This is particularly worrying in advance of the need to register EU nationals in preparation for Brexit.”
India and the UK last week agreed on the text of a memorandum of understanding on the return of an unspecified number of illegal Indians currently here. The MoU is to be signed during the April visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.