Immigration Bill passes through Parliament, despite COVID-19 concerns
The bill will go through parliament again before implemented.
The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill looks to set in law a points-based immigration system for all EU citizens.
Although the bill promises to relax some of the rules for ‘key workers’ in the COVID-19 crisis, including migrants in food production, waste disposal and other crucial roles, others remain sceptical at how far it will reach.
The Chief Executive of Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “Bus drivers and lorry drivers, care workers and shop workers, nurses and cleaners – they are not ‘unskilled’ or unwelcome, they are the backbone of our country and they deserve the security of knowing that this place can be their home too.”
Critics are further finding the implementation of the Bill amid a global health crisis hypocritical, especially since the public and MPs clap for the NHS every week yet the Immigration Bill plots on pulling up the ladder for such workers. The Home Office appears quick to depict key workers as heroes in one breath, yet keen to roll out a hostile anti-migration Bill in the next.
The Home Office appears quick to depict key workers as heroes in one breath, yet keen to roll out a hostile anti-migration Bill in the next.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said, “It is rank hypocrisy towards our NHS and care workers to stand and clap for them on a Thursday night, and then tell them that they are not welcome in the UK on a Monday.”
Thomas-Symonds added that by pushing through the bill, especially at this time, Home Secretary Priti Patel is making workers in the health care professions feel “unwelcome” despite them being integral to the running of the country.
Patel maintains the proposed new immigration system is “firmer, fairer and simpler” as it encourages “a high wage, high skill and high productivity economy.”
Patel’s sentiments are echoed by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden who informed the BBC that the bill will grant the UK “the opportunity to set our own rules to ensure that we get the people we need.”
As the Immigration Bill looks set to place value on people solely due to their economic and labour market contribution, it reduces so many migrants to their income
The new system will mean any individual seeking to move to the UK for a long period of time would have to satisfy the points-based requirements. Stipulations such as competency in the English language, a salary of £25,600, PhD or other qualification and needing a job offer has been widely criticised. Certain sectors rely heavily on migrant work, such as the care sector, where most workers earn far less than £25,600 per year.
The bill easily passed in the Commons due to the large Conservative majority. The new rules are set to take place from early 2021.
However, as the Immigration Bill looks set to place value on people solely due to their economic and labour market contribution, it reduces so many migrants to their income.
The bill does not account for the richness that freedom of movement provides and the cultural education it brings.
The Home Office would do well to be reminded that the world and its citizens are not resources it can drain solely for its own economic benefit.
[Header Image: Sky News, Surge Zirc].