What is the Hostile Environment? A phrase usually referring to war zones or extreme weather was applied to illegal migrants by Theresa May in 2012 when she said:
"The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration… What we don't want is a situation where people think that they can come here and overstay because they're able to access everything they need."
Since then Home Office officials have been busy tooling up to make life really difficult for those who do not have a lawful immigration status here in the UK. And it is working. We are seeing increasing numbers of people who, for many different reasons, do not have official permission to be here and are at risk of being removed by the Home Office.
The Hostile Environment is a bundle of measures which includes:
People find themselves in the UK without permission for many many reasons. Sometimes people do deliberately flout the laws and stay under the Home Office radar for years. But many had no idea they were here illegally because they arrived with parents a very long time ago. They might have lived and worked in the UK for years, paying taxes and making a contribution. Or they have made a minor mistake on an application form and they find themselves without permission to be here. They may well have good reason to be here and have a right to be here; but it can be a long and winding road out of the hostile environment.