Following the announcement in May for tougher rules to be introduced to tackle immigration the government continues with its policy to reduce the overall numbers.
Vans were driving around Hounslow, Barking & Dagenham, Ealing, Barnet, Brent and Redbridge displaying large adverts to highlight the advantages of returning home voluntarily while making clear the Home Office would take enforcement action if they did not.
The vans also displayed a number migrants could text to arrange their returns.
Further raising eyebrows was the material to be distributed in areas where illegal migrants were thought to frequent (which included news agents, money transfer shops and internet cafes) to encourage their voluntary departure.
The pilot follows the launch of three consultations earlier this month by the government in relation to the proposals in the Immigration Bill:
- Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation – seeking views on seeks views on the proposed requirement on landlords to conduct immigration checks on tenants.
- Migrant access to health services in the UK – A consultation on ensuring that migrants contribute fairly to the costs of their healthcare.
- Prevention of illegal working: Strengthening and simplifying the civil penalty scheme – seeking views on seeks views on proposals to strengthen and simplify the current civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal migrant working.
The Immigration Bill demonstrates the ongoing tough stance on this issue of the government. However, while voluntary returns are supported as the most cost-effective way of removing illegal immigrants and bringing numbers down, the means to the end, in this case vans driving around London asking illegal migrants to leave the UK, may leave many questioning whether this is the best use if resources following the abolishing of the UK Border Agency and back log of cases to be decided.