Critics for Immigration and Citizenship Bill

The current proposals could worsen homelessness, destitution and rough sleeping amongst migrant groups. 31 October 2008. Housing groups are calling on the government to urgently review the current housing and welfare proposals set out in the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the three organisations – Shelter, Chartered Institute of Housing and the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust argue the current proposals exclude some migrant groups from housing entitlements and restrict integration of migrant groups into communities.

In fact, the organisations claim the proposals will worsen homelessness, destitution and rough sleeping amongst migrant groups, including asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers.

The letter makes specific recommendations to Government in order to meet the urgent needs of these groups, including:

– Abandon proposals to restrict housing and welfare benefit entitlement only to those with full British citizenship.

– Government should consider taxing businesses that benefit so substantially from migrant labour to pay for the public services used by migrants. The proposal to increase immigration fees to pay for this would be unfair.

– Government should reconsider proposals to further criminalise migrants. Under these new proposals, infringement of immigration law would now become a criminal offence, liable to imprisonment.

– The proposals have potentially damaging effects on community cohesion, making migrants less likely to integrate into communities and more vulnerable to destitution.

The housing bodies are urging the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the JCHR to reconsider these proposals before the final Bill is introduced in Parliament.

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