Of the several hundred letters and emails I receive each week, one of the most common themes is that of immigration. I believe that controlled immigration can have a positive impact on our country but chaotic systems and large numbers of immigrants have placed a big strain on public services. It is important that people who live in the United Kingdom have the legal entitlement to do so and that they are here for the benefit of the country rather than to take advantage of it.
This week I voted in support of the Immigration Bill which had its second reading before the House of Commons. The Government has already made significant changes to the immigration system with the numbers coming into the UK being reduced by a third. The Government has also capped economic migration, reformed family visas, and cut out the widespread abuse of the student route into the country. There is much more to be done but genuine progress has been made to reverse the chaotic systems that we previously had.
This is a substantial piece of legislation. It is designed to simplify the process for the removal of illegal immigrants, restrict their right to bail pending removal, clamp down on ‘sham’ marriages and limit the ability of illegal immigrants to access housing and bank accounts. It also seeks to introduce a charge for migrants using the NHS.
The most important of these changes is that it simplifies the removal of illegal immigrants. At present there is a two stage system; firstly a decision about immigration status, followed by a separate decision about removal. This Bill changes this to a single joint decision about both a person’s immigration status and their removability. This will provide fewer opportunities for legal challenges which are likely to delay and possibly frustrate the removal of someone here illegally and ensure faster removal from the UK.
Britain can rightly boast some of the best race relations in the world but this must go hand in hand with a robust immigration system.