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A new law being considered by British parliament could mean that landlords will face up to five years in prison if they provide housing to asylum seekers who have had their requests for refugee status denied. But if it passes, the rule could have an even wider impact–on anyone who's not white. The Washington Post writes that landlords could decide to just stick with Anglo-Saxon Brits in an effort to avoid the extra work of checking documents.

“Checking immigration status is complicated so landlords may shy away from letting to anyone they believe isn’t British, even if they have a legal right to live in the UK," Terrie Alafat, head of a non-profit called the Chartered Institute of Housing, told the Independent.

In Britain, the law is being seen as a political reaction to a developing crisis on the country's border with France, in the French town of Calais where the Channel Tunnel provides road and rail connections between the countries. Around 3,000 asylum seekers from Africa and Middle Eastern countries like Afghanistan and Syria are waiting on the edges of the town to try their luck at crossing over into England.

Over the last week, asylum seekers have been trying in greater numbers to cross from Calais into England. On Sunday night alone, there were at least 700 attempts to cross through the tunnel, the Guardian reports. Today the British government announced that they will fund an extra 100 police on the French side of the border. This video from EuroNews claims to show a few hundred asylum seekers trying to get through a fence to the tunnel last night:

The timing of the government's push is hard to ignore. In an op-ed, the Guardian UK writes:

David Cameron tried to play the Calais migrant crisis relatively coolly last week. But the inference to be drawn from two ministerial initiatives at the start of this week suggests the nightly scenes have triggered something closer to official panic.

Ministers are suddenly falling over themselves to be seen making life harder for migrants of all kinds, not just those besieging the Channel ports.


The law, the BBC reports, would mean that landlords can evict tenants without a court order, and that they will be required to check prospective tenants' immigration status before offering them a lease.

Related: We built a Twitter bot that corrects people who say 'illegal immigrant'