The British government has made it mandatory for landlords to evict migrants who are not legally allowed to stay in the country. Rights groups have slammed the new measure as unjust and harsh.
Landlords who do not check the legal documents of the migrants before renting them a property or who do not expel the asylum seekers whose applications are denied in Britain could now be imprisoned for up to five years, Communities Secretary Gerg Clark said on Monday. The new measure is set to be included in a new Immigration Bill, which will be debated in parliament in the coming months.
Prime Minister David Cameron's center-right government vowed to take tougher actions against illegal migrants trying to reach the UK from the Mediterranean countries via France.
Thousands of people have made their way to the French city of Calais after arriving in Europe from Syria, Libya, Eritrea and other African and Middle East countries in the hope of reaching Britain.
On Sunday, UK and French ministers published a joint statement committing to solving the migrant crisis in Calais together. They warned there was "no easy way into the UK."
The British government has committed 10 million euros ($11 million) and the French have sent additional police to improve fencing and security around the Eurotunnel rail terminal at Calais.
Rights activists are critical of Cameron's handling of the migrant issue. He vowed last week to deport more illegal migrants "so people know it's not a safe haven."
Morgan Johansson, Sweden's justice and immigration minister, accused Cameron and his government of "playing politics" in the wake of the Calais crisis.
People fleeing war and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East are seeking refuge in European countries, with most of the people turning up on the shores of Italy and Greece or being rescued at sea. Some 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers are currently camped in Italy and Greece, whereas another 20,000 are outside the EU.
A record number of 60 million people fled their homes in the conflict zones last year, according to the United Nations. At least half of them are children. Some 80,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year.
The European Commission had pushed for a mandatory quota system to divide migrants among EU states, but many European leaders, including Cameron, have rejected the proposal.
shs/sms (AFP, dpa)