Karishma Dharni

Immigration Bill a Serious Threat to Liberty

Southall Black Sisters joins lawyers and civil society organisations in voicing opposition to the government’s Immigration Bill which will impact adversely on fundamental freedoms and civil liberties.

90 civil society organisations, university lecturers and lawyers criticise the immigration bill as a serious threat to liberty

In a letter published in the Times, 90 leading civil society organisations, university lecturers and lawyers set out grave criticism of the government’s immigration bill.

Published ahead of the second reading of the Immigration Bill the letter raises concerns about measures to hand over new powers to immigration officials which will seriously undermine the central principles of liberty and freedom.

Threat to Liberty

The PM continues to claim he will deliver his promise to cut net migration to tens of thousands. The new immigration bill, currently before Parliament, is a blunt tool which will fail again and worse still, contains draconian measures that will affect every single person.

It will undermine and erode the rights and civil liberties, not just of those migrants here without leave, but also of settled migrant communities. Any British Citizen unable to immediately provide papers or who falls victim to a mistake by the authorities will be affected too.

The Bill allows largely unaccountable immigration officials powers to enter and search property, in some cases even without a warrant, to seize items and to close down businesses. We have a proud tradition of policing by consent and these are sweeping powers we would hardly dream of giving the police dealing with even serious crimes.

Ordinary people will be forced to act as immigration officers or face prosecution, fines or prison if they do not. They will have to act on information provided by the notoriously error prone and underfunded Home Office. With the removal of many appeal rights, cuts to legal aid, and severe delays in the courts, remedies for the inevitable mistakes will be illusory.

We must not undermine the long held and central principle of British liberty, that homes and people should not be subjected to searches and interference by the authorities without proper evidence and due process. This Bill will make such interferences a daily occurrence.

Don Flynn, Director, Migrants Rights Network
Maurice Wren, Director, Refugee Council
Emma Scott, Director, Rights of Women
Edie Friedman, Executive Director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Bridget Anderson, Research Director, COMPAS – University of Oxford
Canon Steven Saxby, St Barnabas Church
Dr Aidan McQuade, Director, Anti-Slavery International
Bharat Mehta OBE, Chief Executive, Trust for London
Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
Baroness Shas Sheehan of Wimbledon and Tooting, Liberal Democrats
Patrick Yu, Executive Director, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
Neal Lawson, Chair, COMPASS
Saira Grant, Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Jabeer Butt, Deputy Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation
Alison Gelder, Chief Executive, Housing Justice
Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO, Praxis
Lisa Matthews, Co-ordinator, Right to Remain
Eiko Thielemann, Director, LSE – Migration Studies Unit
Sue Willman, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn
Adam Hundt, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn
Dr John R Campbell, Reader, School of Oriental & African Studies
Rita Chadha, CEO, RAMFEL
Dr Barbara E. Harrell-Bond, Co-director, Rights in Exile
Dr. Thanos Zartaloudis, Senior Lecturer in Law, Kent Law School
Helen Hibberd, Director, Hackney Migrant Centre
Sharon Cowan, Director of Research for the Law School, University of Edinburgh
Judy Fudge, Professor, Kent Law School
Steve Hynes, Director, Legal Action Group
Ben Alcraft, Trustee, Action for Refugees in Lewisham
Ali McGinley, Director, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees
Paul Dudman, Archivist, Refugee Council Archive at UEL
Richard Williams, Independent Consultant, Brighton
Dr Monish Bhatia, Lecturer in Criminology, Abertay University
Nicholas Nicol, Barrister, 1 Pump Court
Nando Sigona, Deputy Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham
Dr. Elaine Dewhurst, Senior Lecturer in Law , University of Manchester
Dean Wilson, Professor, University of Sussex
Kate Smart, Director, Asylum Welcome
Sheona York, Clinic solicitor and Reader in Law, University of Kent
Clifton Robinson, Chief Executive , Housing Diversity Network
Matthew Evans, Director, The AIRE Centre
Colin Yeo, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Carlos Cruz, Co-ordinator, United Migrant Workers Education Project (UMWEP)
Andy Gregg, CEO, Race on the Agenda
Denise McDowell, Director, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit
Sarah Crowther, Director, REAP
Mostafa Rajaai, International Students’ Officer, National Union of Students
Hazel Williams, Director, Asylum Support Appeals Project
Abi Brunswick, Director, Project 17
Clare Jennings, Solicitor, Matthew Gold and Co. Ltd
Giulia Tranchina, Solicitor, Wilson Solicitors LLP
Wayne Myslik, Chief Executive, Asylum Aid
Dermot Bryers, CEO, English for Action
Sally Causer, Director, Southwark Law Centre
Suzanne Fletcher, Chair, Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary
Oleg Pasichnyi, Co-rodinator, Ukrainian Migrants Network
Sue Lukes, independent consultant, London
Caroline Sorbier, Head of casework and advocacy, Body & Soul
Eva Mayor, Chair, Kanlungan, Filipino Consortium
Rafael Joseph Maramag, Secretary, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines
Phoebe Dimacali, Chair, Filipino Domestic Workers Association
Nidesma Bibal De Castro, Chief Executive, Bahay Kubo Housing Association
Nuno Ferreira, Senior lecturer on law, University of Liverpool
Steve Green, Trustee, BritCits
Áine O’Brien, Co-Director, Counterpoints Arts
Rosario Guimba-Stewart, Director, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network
Eleonore Kofman, Professor, Middlesex University
Helena Wray, Associate Professor in Law, Middlesex University
Nazek Ramadan, Director, Migrant Voice
Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Forum
Phillip Cooper, Acting Co-ordinator, Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum
Lilian Seenoi, Executive Director, North West Migrants Forum
Leila Taleb, Co-ordinator, JUST West Yorkshire
Maria Houlihan, Managr, Asylum Support Housing Advice
Kristyene Boreland, Chair, Black and Ethnic Minority Women’s Network
Dr Zibiah Alfred Loakthar, Chair, Community Language Support Services
Nicholas Sagovsky, Steering Group Member, Churches Refugee Network
Valerie Simanowitz, Committee Member, Lewes Group in Support of Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Iyiola Solanke, Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds
Paul Dillane, Executive Director, UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group
Hannah Lewis, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Sheffield
Ian Rathbone, Chair, Hackney Community Law Centre
Peter Hall, Co-ordinator, Croydon Refugee Day Centre
Ruth Hayes, Director, Islington Law Centre
Matt Foot & Rhona Friedman, Co-funders, Justice Alliance
Rachael Despicht, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
Arten Llazari, CEO, Refugee and Migrant Centre, Black Country
Nic Eadie, Director, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
Kate Roberts, Head of Policy, Kalayaan
Owen Tudor, Head of EU and International Relations Department, TUC

Original letter published in Times and Migrants’ Rights Network

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