Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which received royal assent in March 2006, is the fourth piece of asylum and immigration legislation since Labour came to power in 1997.

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* Restrict appeals for people refused entry to the UK to work or study

* Introduce a new asylum model involving new decision making processes

* Only give refugees a temporary right to remain in the UK for five years which can be removed at any stage if the situation in their country improves. Only once five years is up would they be given a right to stay in the UK permanently.

* Tackle illegal working through a new civil penalties scheme for employers by introducing fines of up to £2, 000 per illegal employee and custodial sentences of up to two-years.

* Give out unlimited fines to those who knowingly use or exploit illegal workers.

* Strengthen border controls by allowing data sharing between the Immigration Service, police and customs.

* Give refugees an integration loan rather than a grant as under the current system

* Extend the detention inspection regime to cover escort arrangements

Controversial parts of the legislation

Clause 43

Clause 43 of the act looks at support for failed asylum seekers who are unable to travel back to their home countries due to medical situations or there being no safe route home (e.g. to countries such as Zimbabwe and Iraq). People in this situation get what’s known as Section 4 support which consists of board and lodgings.

The new clause allows the home secretary to provide extra support where it’s needed such as nappies, prams and razors.

Controversially it also says that support to people on Section 4 support has to be provided in the form of vouchers and not cash. Vouchers for asylum seekers have been used before but were abolished due to being impractical, expensive and stigmatising.

The new asylum model

The new asylum model introduced by the act changes how the Home Office deals with asylum claims. The Refugee Council is concerned that the new system will lead to many cases being pre-judged rather than being assessed on their merits.

The council also says that the bill fails to tackle fundamental problems with the asylum process, such as poor initial decision making.

Refugees only being given a temporary right to remain until five years has passed

The Refugee Council says that it is unacceptable that people who have been accepted as refugees have to live through five years of uncertainty until they are allowed to remain in the UK permanently.

It also argues that the policy will go against the government’s measures to help refugees to integrate into society as it could put employers off employing them.

Tightening of borders

Campaigners have warned that the tightening of UK borders under the Act should not block refugees seeking safety. The Refugee Council says that the new measures must ensure that the UK’s commitment to providing people the right to seek asylum is upheld.

Integration loans rather than grants

Refugees previously received backdated payments gathered while their asylum applications were being considered. This will now be replaced with an integration loan which they will have to pay back. Campaigners say that the move is a step backwards and that the loans will place vulnerable people in debt.

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