Crushing legal defeat for govt could finally kill off the Hostile Environment

By Chai Patel

Today the High Court ruled that Theresa May’s plan to create “a really hostile environment” for undocumented migrants by forcing private landlords to carry out immigration checks is causing racial discrimination. Classic Theresa. She never did see a burning injustice she couldn’t tackle with petrol.

Having worked on this case for over three years now, you’d expect me to be elated to have a High Court judge tell me we were right, that he hopes legislators who enacted this would be “aghast” at the discrimination caused, and that the government “failed to justify the scheme”.

And I am elated. We have knocked out a key plank of the Hostile Environment – or ‘compliant environment’ in Sajid Javid double-speak- which basically means that everyone, from your landlord, your doctor and eventually no doubt your neighbour, are supposed to check your papers every time you leave the house.

But I’m also despairing that it took this long to make the government see the blindingly obvious. Even as we speak, their lawyers are preparing an appeal that argues that it should be legal for the government to cause racial discrimination in the housing market.