Department criticised for ‘escalating hostile environment’ by selling officials’ services to firms
'The Home Office is selling the services of its immigration officials to private companies in a move attacked as an escalation of the “hostile environment” strategy.
According to internal documents seen by the Observer, the department is attempting to embed immigration officers at a rate of almost £60 an hour as part of an “enhanced checking service” being offered to public services, understood to include NHS trusts and local authorities, as well as private firms.
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.
There were demands on Saturday night for the Home Office to reveal how many officers had so far been deployed and to provide a list of organisations that had used them.
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.
A presentation marked “official – sensitive” reveals the department spent at least 18 months testing “the benefits of placing immigration officials in a number of organisations”. 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.'
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