A sign of things to come:
Following the UK general election on 6 May 2010, the UK Border Agency website has undergone some changes.
All news stories published before April 2010 have been removed from this website, as has information about our strategies and aims under the previous government. This content can be viewed on the UK government web archive.
Information and guidance for applicants and others is still available on this website.
What can we expect in the coming days, weeks and months? There will surely be changes to the Points Based System. Under the current UKBA approach it is very easy to make any changes, including introducing a cap. There is already a bizarre cap on Japanese entrants under Tier 5, which is not applied to the other Tier 5 countries – which are overwhelmingly white. Whether this legal mechanism remains viable beyond the upcoming Court of Appeal challenge remains to be seen. The claimants are arguing, amongst other things, that changing immigration rules through policy documents is an unlawful derogation from the requirements of the Immigration Act 1971.
That leads on to another BIG change . Civil servants have drafted a completely new immigration act to replace the mess that has been allowed to develop since 1971. It is difficult to explain to non lawyers, but the 1971 Act is still the main immigration law. It has been amended, though, and then those amendments have been amended and re-amended and so on. My favourite anomaly is that there are two different sections 88A of the 2002 Act both concurrently in force in respect of different types of application. The level of carelessness and negligence necessary to achieve that is breathtaking.
It can be expected that the new Act will reduce appeal rights, reduce safeguards and increase executive authority. The Con-‘Dem’ alliance may talk big (and will hopefully follow through) on repeals of appalling New Labour authoritarian laws with a US-styled Freedom Act or similar, but in immigration I somehow doubt that they will be rolling back the frontiers of the state.
Legal Aid in all areas is surely going to come under serious scrutiny, especially now that the previously independent Legal Services Commission has been brought into the government fold as an executive agency. Legal Aid in judicial review and immigration is likely to come under pressure, although one would hope that Dominic Grieve, the libertarian new Attorney General, would understand the importance of adequate funding of judicial review work. I once briefed David Davis and Dominic Grieve at the time of a new immigration bill. I expected to be laughed out of the room or worse, but they seemed genuinely receptive on civil liberty issues even in an immigration context. That reminds me – whatever has happened to DD?
Will the cap on economic migration, however defined, lead to a concomitant easing of enforcement actions against employers? The industrial and employer lobby is said to be strongly opposed to any migration cap so maybe that could be a quid pro quo. The prominence given to the demonisation of employers was certainly evident from the UKBA website in the past, which was all very embarrassing when Baroness Scotland came a cropper.
Any other suggestions or predictions? Leave a comment.