The organisations are offered “real-time” access to information about someone’s immigration status through an “on-site immigration official”, who can be asked to attend interviews and encourage undocumented migrants to leave the country voluntarily. The embedded official can also pass the details of undocumented migrants to immigration enforcement officers. The embedded officers are asked to ensure that migrants are either charged for services or denied access to them should they fail to prove they are in the country legally.
Migrants’ rights experts warned that the service was the latest example of the government “trying to embed immigration checks in every aspect of life in the UK”. They warned that such schemes undermined the trust of the public and risked discouraging migrants from getting services that they desperately needed.
Corey Stoughton, advocacy director for human rights group Liberty, called for the complete separation of migration control from vital services. She accused the Home Office of making “a side business out of seconding immigration officers into local councils and social services”.
Lucy Jones, director of programmes at Doctors of the World, a charity which offers healthcare to undocumented migrants in the UK, said: “It’s imperative that healthcare services are allowed to be neutral, safe spaces that everyone in need of treatment can go to without the risk being arrested.”