Clause 8 - Offence of illegal working

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:32 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 3:32 pm, 27th October 2015

It would depend on whether he had been caught working. He would be prosecuted and could have been imprisoned. Thankfully for Mehdi and Rezi, that did not happen, but there are many other people like them. She was extremely vulnerable. Had the Bill been around and they had been imprisoned, she would have been left destitute, facing deportation without him by her side. With him by her side, she was terrified enough. He would have gone to prison and then, undoubtedly, he would have been deported separately from her.

A fit, healthy married man in his 30s who is working illegally is not someone we typically highlight when trying to attract compassion from those who wish to control illegal working and are also concerned about vulnerable people, but who among us could not feel compassion for Mehdi and Rezi? We should remember that even those who are not the archetypal exploitable worker often have truly heart-breaking stories and are often left with no choices. The Bill would make it even riskier for them. If it is riskier, they will become ever more dependent on their abusive, exploitative employers.  They deserve our compassion and support to get out of those situations. They do not deserve the threat of a prison sentence hanging over them.