"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday 25 October 2013

Mark Harper’s blind repetition of Home Office mantra

If a mantra can be seen as representative of an organisation’s culture then the Home Office’s recent motto, “Go home”, is illustrative of what this ministerial department has come to stand for.

Yet this message, recently seen plastered on the side of vans which were driven through London areas with high concentrations of ethnic minorities, is not the only example of the department’s controversial guiding principles, and the Immigration Minister’s blind loyalty to them, which we have seen this month.

Mark Harper’s absolute obedience in toeing the party line when it comes to the Tory stance on immigration is evident in his defence of not only the now scrapped ‘racist vans’ but in his recent rejection of the Children’s Commissioner’s allegations that the government is failing to fulfill its human rights obligations towards children with regards to the amended family migration rules.

The dismissal – packed with the Home Office doublespeak we have come to associate with Harper - came two months after Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson slammed the rules in a commendable letter to the minister which raised her grave concerns over the promotion of the welfare and well being of children in the UK with regards to the rules.

Minister of State for Immigration Mark Harper
Harper’s predictably disappointing response has angered opponents of the rules who are growing increasingly frustrated with the MP’s unwillingness to engage in any real debate on the issue and with his hollow promises to continue to monitor the impact of the rules and to consider the findings of the APPG on Migration in its recent Family Migration inquiry.

Particularly frustrating is Harper’s lack of serious consideration with regards to the Commissioner’s concerns that caseworkers are not giving due consideration to the best interests of the child in their decision-making - a claim which is supported by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s review of nearly 40 applications for entry clearance on the basis of marriage in which there was a child in the UK from April to October 2012, which found none of the refusals made any reference to best interests.

Furthermore, Harper denied the existence of any policy to refuse visit visas to spouses who have previously been refused a spouse visa on the grounds they are trying to circumnavigate the rules. Yet we continue to see such a trend.

A good mantra can serve to inform an organisation in its everyday decisions and it can guide strategy and act as a rallying point. But when dealing with a department which recently revealed the mantra “Go home” to the world, it is perhaps no surprise that the very framework in which this organisation works to protect children is under question.

Letter from Mark Harper MP on Children and Family Immigration Rules:

Letter to Mark Harper MP, Minister of State for Immigration, on new Family Migration Rules: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_721

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