‘British proposals could hit legal migrants in recession’

November 18th, 2009 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Nov 18 (IANS) Indian and other non-European migrants could find themselves doubly disadvantaged in the recession if immigration proposals currently before parliament end up wrongly targeting legal migrants, the British government has been told.

New rules proposed by the Labour government to simplify and tighten immigration laws should not be applied retrospectively on immigrants who are already in Britain legally, a campaigning group said.

It also expressed worries that legal migrants who have become jobless in the current climate of recession in Britain may have their right to live in the country taken away from them.

“Although we support the government’s attempt to ensure proper implementation of immigration laws, we would like to point out that new rules should not mean retrospective implementation of the laws,” the HSMP Forum said in a statement.

“In view of the current economic climate, there could be instances of migrants losing their jobs and we believe that these circumstances must be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not they will be ‘permitted’ to continuously live in this country,” it added.

Britain’s Labour government last week proposed new rules under which people seeking to migrate to Britain will either be given ‘permission’ or not.

If the government bill is passed by parliament, the concept of ‘permission’ will replace the five “outdated and overlapping concepts” of leave to enter, leave to remain, entry clearance, right to abode and exemption from control, the government said.

Alongside, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said hospital consultants, civil engineers, aircraft engineers and ship’s officers are to be removed from a tightly-regulated list of skills which Britain seeks out from time to time because it cannot meet its needs from its own population.

Brown, in a key speech made in the Indian-dominated Labour stronghold of Southall strongly defended Labour’s policy of managed immigration - a Points Based System that has replaced visas granted under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP).

But the HSMP Forum said it was concerned that “introducing new laws often results in targeting existing migrants who have been responsible tax payers and law-abiding residents.”

HSMP Forum took its name from the UK’s Highly Skilled Migrant Programme which was introduced in 2002. HSMP Forum represents migrants belonging to all immigration categories and campaigns on various immigration issues.

Brown’s immigration policy was welcomed by Indian-origin MPs, with Southall’s Virendra Sharma saying the prime minister’s speech signalled the government’s determination “to have a fair and firm immigration policy”.

Keith Vaz, the senior Indian-origin MP in Britain, agreed, saying: “People have a problem with illegal immigrants, not those who are here legally. A lot of the problem is the product of bad administration at the UK Border Agency.”

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