LEADERS from six Scottish faith groups are taking on the Home Office over "hostile environment" policies targeting immigrants.

The Church of Scotland is among 19 representative of churches across the UK who have written to the Home Secretary, calling for an end to policies which leave those who fall foul of Home Office rules without any means of support.

The Rev Dr Richard Frater, convener of the Kirk's Churhc and Society Council, was one of the signatories to the letter which demands the policies are dropped and claim destitution deliberately inflicted by the UK Government is “inhumane” and leads to racial discrimination.

The policy has seen members of the Windrush generation of West Indian immigrants told to leave the country because they lacked official documentation, provoked a row over the planned eviction of hundreds of would-be refugees in Glasgow and complaints from the director of the leaders of Edinburgh's international festivals over heavy-handed treatment of visiting artists under Home Office Rules.

In an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the churches describe the "hostile environment" as a web of government policies designed to make life so difficult for people who cannot prove they have the right to live in the UK that they will choose to leave. They warn the system is inhumane,unjust, and is causing racist discrimination.

The letter calls fror a full independent review of the immigration rules and how they are being enforced. It states: "We believe it is inhumane to usedestituition or the treat of destitution as a policy tool to encourage people to leave the country."

Read more: 100 join protest against plans to evict asylum seekers

It continues: "“People who do not look or sound ‘British’ are now facing increased difficulty in finding homes and employment, because landlords and employers are being asked to play the role of border guards.”

The leaders, including Revd Frazer, the Most Rev Mark STrange, Bishop of Moray and Primus of the Scottish episcopal Church, the Right Rev John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley, John Cross, moderator of the general asssembly of the United Free Churhc of Scotland, the REv Alan Donaldson, general directoor of the Baptist Union of Scotland and Joan coook, preisdent of the Scottish Unitarian Association.

The letter calls on the home secretary “to seize this opportunity and adopt an approach to immigration that treats every individual, whatever their status, with humanity, dignity, respect and fairness.” and adds: “As Christians we assert the importance of offering welcome to the stranger and caring for the vulnerable, whoever they are.

Many of their churches have members who are at risk of losing hteir homes or incomes and support those who are already suffering hardship and destituiton becuse o f hostile envorinment policies, it says.

Dr Frazer said: “The Church of Scotland is deeply, deeply concerned at plans to evict up to 300 asylum seekers from their homes in Glasgow.

“Many of those facing eviction have already needed to flee their homes in the past from appalling violence, terror and war. It is unacceptable that this should be happening.”

Read more: Syrian refugees ‘happier’ in Scotland than in England, research finds

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The public expects us to have checks in place to prevent illegal immigration and tackle those who seek to profit from it – however we recognise the experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are inexcusable.

“The Home Secretary and Immigration Minister have said it is a priority to right the wrongs that have occurred, prevent such cases from ever happening again and ensure a fair and humane immigration system.”