LONDON, England (AP):The British government took another crack at curbing illegal immigration yesterday, introducing a bill that would require immigration checks to accompany private-housing applications and health-care access.
The bill has been slammed by lawyers and human rights campaigners, who warn it will lead to unlawful discrimination.
Immigration is a sensitive political issue in Britain given the country's struggling economy and cuts in public services.
The conservative-led government of Prime Minister David Cameron wants to reduce net migration from non-European countries from 176,000 last year to fewer than 100,000 before the next election in 2015.
curb illegal migration
Immigration Minister Mark Harper disclosed yesterday that the new bill will stop migrants from using public services they are not entitled to and reduce the factors which encourage people to come to the United Kingdom.
Critics argued the proposals could lead to racial discrimination and hurt immigrants legally in the UK.
For instance, private landlords will face fines for not carrying out the proper checks under the new legislation.
But "checking immigration status is complicated, so landlords may shy away from letting to anyone who they believe not to be British," said Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing. "Discrimination laws will not protect these people."