Banks have announced they will be searching the accounts of 70 million customers in an attempt to root out illegal immigrants. The search is an extension of Theresa May's plan to create a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants residing in Britain. The Home Office is expecting to find 6,000 people with expired visas, denied asylum seekers and foreign national offenders, all of which are facing deportation within the first year of the checks.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Jamie Wiseman</span>
The checks are to be carried out quarterly and anyone identified in the search as being illegal will have their accounts closed or frozen in an attempt "to make it harder for them to establish or maintain a settled life in the UK." The ominous announcement seems more like a response to the increasing terror attacks in Europe, many of which are carried out by people there illegally. European officials say that by freezing accounts with significant sums they "will create a powerful incentive [for those involved] to agree to voluntary departure."
Those opposed to the new extension argue that the recent record of the Home Office indicates they can't be trusted to implement the system without errors and there will likely be legal immigrants caught in the crossfire.
Satbir Singh is the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and he criticized the plan saying, "Migrants and ethnic minorities with every right to be here will be affected by the imposition of these new checks." The banks have been told they are to tell customers to take up the matter with the Home Office if a mistake has been made.
The new legislation works by requiring banks to check the identity of every current account holder against a database provided by the Home Office. The ominous new plan seems like it is unfairly leveraging banks against citizens in the war on illegal immigration. The Home Office answered concerns by saying, "This policy is not expected to exacerbate the situation but to contribute to the hostile environment, encouraging illegal immigrants to leave the UK on a voluntary basis."
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