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According to immigration campaigners, the government’s proposed immigration bill will hand ‘unbelievable control to traffickers’ while also making it harder for people to escape slavery.
Anti slavery NGOs and labour rights activists said that due to recent immigration rules, victims of trafficking will be treated as illegal workers rather than victims of crime.
The new immigration bill states that illegal working will carry a 12 month sentence and an unlimited fine.
Caroline Robinson, policy director at the Focus on Labour Exploitation says: “We have serious concerns that the immigration bill will make people more vulnerable. The proposed legislation hands unbelievable control to traffickers. The purpose of this illegal working offence is to find people and get them out of the country and our fear is that victims won’t want to come forward because of the immigration consequences.”
However, the Home Office has said that the new immigration bill will not affect victims of trafficking. It’s claimed that victims will receive substantial protection under the Modern Slavery Act.
Karen Bradley, UK minister for preventing abuse and exploitation said: “The intent of the offence of illegal working is clear; it is not aimed at victims of modern slavery. Anyone who is a victim of modern slavery can at any time report their captors, and last week the Home Secretary announced a specific helpline for victims to ring or text for help.”
The immigration bill has already come under fire from landlords and tenants across the country, for demanding that landlords start checking the residency status of all prospective tenants to ensure they have the right to rent in the UK.
Banks also have a responsibility to establish whether customers are in the UK legally.