The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has indicated it plans to initiate legal proceedings in the high court today for judicial review of the government's decision to introduce an immigration cap.
The cap came into effect on 28 June, much to the consternation of the UK business community, and even some cabinet members -- including the Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, who remains a vocal opponent and has said it is doing "huge damage" to the economy.
The Law Society, City of London Immigration Working Group, the Greater London Authority, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and London First have all echoed this criticism and called on the government to ditch the cap.
The crux of JCWI's complaint is that Home Office ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval in introducing an interim immigration cap before agreeing on a permanent one to take effect next year.
While they announced their intention to introduce the cap, they did not disclose who it would apply to or how it would operate until it came into force. Even then, details were only posted on the Home Office website but not presented to parliament.
In other judicial review proceedings decided in July, the Court of Appeal gave a stinging rebuke to the Home Secretary for changing the Immigration Rules without first obtaining parliamentary approval.
Lord Justice Sedley said the government could not just "abandon a constitutional principle which for four centuries has stood as a pillar of the separation of powers in what is today a democracy under the rule of the law."
He added that: "Parliament expects the Home Secretary to lay before it any rules by which he or she proposes to manage immigration; the courts will expect such rules, like any other source of law, to be those and only those which have parliament's approval."
JCWI's lawyer, Shahram Taghavi of Simons, Muirhead and Burton, said he was "surprised that despite the appeal court ruling the home secretary had again sought to avoid parliamentary scrutiny on such an important change to immigration law - a change which unusually also impacts upon British business".
Habib Rahman, JCWI's chief executive, believes the cap is "harsh and disproportionate". He added: "We consider caps are a further attempt by the government to blame part of the financial difficulties the country finds itself in on migrants. Migrants fill the skill gap, create jobs and help rejuvenate the economy."
Immigration minister Damian Green is unrepentant, however: "We will rigorously defend this challenge and are confident of success. The government has been clear, we will introduce our permanent annual limit on economic migrants from outside the EU from April 2011.
"While we decide how the annual limit should operate it is imperative that we have interim measures in place to avoid a rush of applications from migrants before the new rules take effect."
- Ministers face high court battle over cap on immigration (Guardian)
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- Can Cameron really limit how many immigrants enter the UK? (The Solicitor)
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