Home Office Urged to Stop ‘Harmful’ Immigration Checks on Bank Accounts

The Home Office has been urged by more than 60 MPs, academics and campaign groups to halt an “inhumane” new policy that will see banks required to check the immigration status of account holders from January. An open letter to Amber Rudd — whose signatories include Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Labour MP David Lammy and human rights group Liberty – warns that the checks could see thousands wrongly blocked from using banking services, due to the Home Office’s “poor track record” of dealing with complaints and appeals in a timely manner. The letter, seen exclusively by The Independent, also urges that the policy will be most harmful to BAME communities, and will increase the vulnerability of people who are already in precarious positions.

The legislation, designed as part of the Government’s bid to create a “hostile environment” for immigrants, will require banks and building societies to check 70 million current accounts each quarter. The provisions came into effect in October and the first checks are due to be carried out in January 2018. People whose visas have run out, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation should then have their accounts closed down or frozen under the new legislation. The Home Office says it is expecting the policy to identify 6,000 illegal immigrants in the first year.

Read more: May Bulman, Independent,

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