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Groups highlight negative impact of "hostile environment" for undocumented migrants

Date of Publication: 
12 April 2017

New reports by Corporate Watch and JCWI criticise government's hostile environment policies

Groups highlight negative impact of "hostile environment" for undocumented migrants

12 April 2017

Corporate Watch, a non-profit campaign group which describes itself as providing critical information on the social impacts of corporations and capitalism, has produced a new report looking at the UK's "hostile environment" for undocumented migrants.

The 39-page report can be read here and provides a comprehensive and critical look at 13 of the main hostile environment policies introduced so far.

Corporate Watch identifies three core themes that run through the hostile environment approach:

• First, information: "Many of the new measures involve ramping up data collection and data sharing between the Home Office and its "partners".

• Second, criminalisation: "Just trying to live without the correct documents is becoming a crime."

• Third, collaboration. "Control is 'outsourced' from the Home Office to other government agencies (e.g., the NHS, schools) or to private bodies (e.g., charities, banks, bosses, landlords)."

The report covers how the hostile environment impacts on healthcare (NHS charges, ID checks and data sharing), education (the school census and higher education student monitoring), housing (the Right to Rent checks), homelessness (the rounding up of rough sleepers​), work ("illegal working" and employer collaboration), driving licences, bank accounts and marriages.

Corporate Watch says the hostile environment "means depriving people of basic rights and services, blocking people's possibilities of life," with policies that cause "immediate suffering" and impede "every aspect of people's lives."

A recent report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) called on the Government to rethink the hostile environment approach.

The report, which outlines JCWI's six recommendations for a post-Brexit immigration policy, says the hostile environment directly undermines integration and incentivises discrimination.

JCWI says evidence suggests the hostile environment approach can have divisive and damaging impacts on the most vulnerable in society, including pregnant women, children and victims of crime, as well as increasing divisions and tensions in local communities.

"We propose that, in the context of a new post-Brexit immigration policy, the Government should move away from the hostile environment approach in favour of border controls which operate at the border, rather than at the heart of our communities. Activity at the local levels should be informed by a national integration strategy which guides actions to reach out to, rather than intimidate, migrants", the report states.