It can feel that the UK has become an increasingly hostile place for migrants.
The Government’s “Hostile Environment” policy (recently rebranded to less intolerant sounding, “compliant environment”) is meant to make everyday life unbearable for undocumented individuals and deter more migrants from moving to the UK.
As Liberty have set out in their: “A Guide to The Hostile Environment", this report aims to explain in detail what the hostile environment policy looks like in practice and what can be done about it.
The Hostile Environment policy can be understood as a network of various immigration controls that is embedded within every part of our society’s structure. It’s aim is to penetrate all aspects of people’s lives and make it increasingly difficult in order to incentivise migrants to leave. Part of the policy includes imposing immigration checks when people access public services, work, open bank accounts, housing, increasing state surveillance of everyone in the name of immigration control and denying access to services on the basis of having wrong immigrations statuses.
This policy is being carried out by public servants and private companies: police, bankers, social workers and landlords are just a few examples of groups who are expected to ask for immigration paperwork to access their services. This is a far-reaching policy that affects more than just undocumented people. It targets anyone who may be deemed to look ‘foreign’, with black and minority ethnic people being especially affected.
The new proposed Data Protection Bill, which is approaching the Report Stage in the House of Commons, is part of this web of discriminatory immigration policies. It includes an “immigration exemption” clause which will make it harder for individuals to access the data that is held on them, effectively removing their data protection rights, in the name of “effective immigration control”. For more information on this is undermining your rights and to learn more about Liberty's campaign to defend our data protection rights, see here.