Hostile environment challenged


THE TORY government’s ‘hostile environment’, blocking students from studying in the UK, blocking overseas doctors from working in the NHS, while demanding landlords check the immigration status of their tenants, is being challenged, driving the Tories back on a number of fronts.

Doctors union BMA, lecturers union UCU and The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) have all challenged the government’s policy. They forced Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid into a situation where he announced yesterday a ‘review’ of the cap on students and doctors allowed into the UK.

BMA council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said yesterday: ‘The NHS could not survive without the vital contribution of overseas doctors, and it is vital that the government puts the needs of patients first by implementing a flexible immigration policy that allows us to employ the doctors needed to serve the health needs of the nation.’

Nagpaul, added: ‘We welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement to review Tier 2 visa allocations, further to extensive lobbying from the BMA and other bodies to end arbitrary visa caps which are preventing competent overseas doctors from working in an overstretched NHS with a serious shortage of medical staff.’

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Our universities’ international student recruitment is a huge success story because overseas students are attracted by the quality of higher education available. ‘International students make an enormous contribution to UK higher education both educationally and economically. ‘Sajid Javid should take the lead on this and support universities by committing to remove international students from the net migration target altogether.’

Meanwhile, campaigners are to challenge the Tory Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy at the High Court next week. The Windrush scandal has highlighted a number of cases of people wrongly being denied rental accommodation.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) says the ‘right to rent’ scheme, which requires landlords in England to check the immigration status of their tenants, encourages ‘systematic discrimination’ against ethnic minorities and people without British passports.

A judicial review application hearing will take place next Wednesday and is expected to receive backing from a number of charities, human rights groups, MPs and peers. JCWI legal policy director Chai Patel: ‘We’ve also seen the chief inspector of borders and immigration recently put out a report warning the Home Office there was no good evidence this scheme was working, and recommending a full evaluation of the scheme, which the Home Office has rejected.’