How will the Immigration Bill affect victims of abuse?
Published 5 December 2013
"With no access to public or rented housing, healthcare, the labour market, social services, legal aid and less chance of a right to appeal deportation decisions, how are vulnerable individuals expected to prove that they have a “right to be here"?"
Victims of exploitation and abuse face possible deportation if the UK Immigration Bill becomes law, according to a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
In an article for Open Democracy this week, Halliki Voolma cites the example of two women who were trafficked from Zimbabwe and forced into domestic slavery and child prostitution in the UK. She asks how the women, one of whom has subsequently died of AIDS acquired as a result of prostitution, would have fared under the Immigration Bill which becomes law next year.
The Bill enables the UK to "deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later".
The surviving woman, Saima, was identified by the Home Office as an illegal immigrant after escaping from her captor, but was twice denied the right to remain in the UK because her story was not believed. It was only after she contacted a migrant support group that she was able to get her case overturned.
Halliki , who is doing a PhD in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies focusing on domestic violence against immigrant women, highlights that under the Immigration Bill, landlords found to rent to such migrants will face large fines, healthcare providers will have to turn them away, banks will not be allowed to let them open accounts, firms will face increased fines for employing them, and their potential grounds for appealing deportation decisions will be reduced from 17 to four. Saima is now working part time and attending college.
Halliki, who says the Immigration Bill runs foul of European human rights legislation, states: “Even without the Bill, Saima was twice denied permission to remain in the UK, despite the horrific circumstances which made her ‘illegal’ and ‘a criminal’, and led to her sister’s death. With no access to public or rented housing, healthcare, the labour market, social services, legal aid and with less chance of having the right to appeal deportation decisions, how are vulnerable individuals expected to prove that they have a “right to be here”?”
Halliki’s Open Democracy article is part of its 16 days activism against gender violence campaign.
Picture credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net and Adam Hickmott.