"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 26 April 2013

More mendacity, and a call to votes
Via Facebook, posted by someone who is divided from her husband by the immigration rules :

This was just *2 weeks* before the income changes came in (not several months), but as we are sharing uncaring (and false) MP replies, here we go:

Dear Gary Streeter,

I am writing in relation to the interview I heard with Theresa May on the Andrew Marr Show this morning.
I am very concerned, because in April this year I married in India, my fiancée, who is an Indian citizen. I would like him to join me here in the UK, but, like many people in this area, I do not have a large income, certainly not of £18500, and although (thankfully) we have a place to live rent and bill free with my parents, I am very worried that this will prevent us ever being together.
It seems to me that this is targeting people who have less money, even though neither of us have any intention of claiming from the state. So many choices are taken away from poorer people.
I heard Theresa May saying these new rules will target immigrants who want to bring their family here, but I was born here and have lived here all my life. Will this policy affect me?

Yours sincerely,
Jenny S

The response is below :

Dear Mrs S,
Many thanks for your email, and I have a lot of sympathy with the points that you are making.
If your marriage is a genuine one, I have no doubt that in your case your husband will be permitted to come to this country. The problem we have is that there are thousands of bogus marriages every year in the UK and the people concerned tend to be those with low income for whom a few hundred pounds to walk down the aisle is attractive.
I will make sure that when government finally get around to introducing any changes (and I think this will require primary legislation and therefore is several months away), that the problems of those of us in low wage areas are fully take into account.

Best wishes,
Gary Streeter


Here's the timeline :

The news was starting to break that family reunion was about to become a lot more difficult - and soon - in early June 2012.
The article 'Exile or family breakup' in the Guardian on 8/June/2012 alerted many people that harsh rule changes were imminent :

The interview with Andrew Marr referred to in the letter was on 10/June/2012 : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jz5fh
Therefore the letter above was composed on 10/June/2012.

The new immigration rules were announced on the following day, 11/June/2012 : http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2012/june/13-family-migration

The rules came into force on 9/July/2012 : http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2012/ukba-summarises-changes-immigration-rules-effect-9th-july-2012

So for Gary Streeter MP to assert that :
If your marriage is a genuine one, I have no doubt that in your case your husband will be permitted to come to this country.

... is simply false, and outrageous, as the cat was out of the bag.. It was already clear at this stage that harsh, draconian measures were being introduced - measures that would hit many, many people.

AT LEAST 47% of Britons in employment : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/introduction.html .

In fact, the figure may well be higher because of the 'edge cases' of people whose income streams may be above the income requirement but not counted for whatever reason. People such as Marianne, who has multiple income streams which aren't counted ( http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/marianne ). Or people who struggle with the evidential requirements and the associate bureaucracy of a settlement visa nightmare, such as Gerard ( http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/gerard ). Even someone who is clearly articulate and talented as a journalist for the Spectator magazine! http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8895331/fortress-britain/

My own intuition tells me that the figure of Britons now unable to bring a non-EEA spouse or partner into the country is some way north of 50% - maybe far to the north. Let's see, because more and more horrific cases will emerge.

And of course the elderly dependants route has now effectively been closed ( http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/introduction.html - According to one of our sources, as of 5th January 2013 only one dependant relative visa has been granted worldwide since the rule changes in July).

Language requirements have become much harder.

And the road to indefinite leave to remain has gone from two years to five years, which is setting people up for failure as it makes it much much harder to find employment in the UK.

We're hearing reports that some employment agencies aren't accepting registration from people on pre-ILR visas for example. Effectively, the toxicity of the debate has legitimised the exercise of prejudices.


At this stage, I think the issue is that not just the rights of migrants are under attack - but the rights of British citizens to a family life are also under attack.

And beyond rights, the values of family and natural human relationships are under attack. It has become normal to divide a mother from her children ( http://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2012/11/27/skype-mummy ). To divide husbands and wives. To drive a British citizen to the point of suicide because of the agony of separation ( http://libertygb.org.uk/v1/index.php/news-libertygb/external-news/4070-donna-oettinger-husband-reveals-agony-of-learning-about-wife-and-son-s-death-on-the-internet ).

This is seen as acceptable as the parties race to the muddy bottom.

This is an unprecedented attack on the family, and on the notion of citizenship itself, and on the way we as human beings relate to each other ( http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens ).

British citizens and migrants of every background need to stand together to resist this attack. We really are 'all in it together'.

It needs to be made an election issue. We need to take a leaf out of the book of the migrant rights movement in the US, the DREAMers ( http://www.dreamactivist.org/ ) and others, and organise.


Think about this :

In many constituencies up and down the country, the migrant vote (not to mention the votes of their British citizen partners and family) would be enough to swing the election either way.
('Migrants can be kingmakers in 2015 General election' - http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2012/08/migrants-can-be-kingmakers-2015 )

And with the unprecedented attack on migrant rights, more and more migrants are choosing to take the path to citizenship. Whereas previously, EU migrants for example would feel secure enough in their position to remain as simply EU migrants, now they are increasingly feeling the pressure to become British citizens to normalise and secure their status.

And citizens have votes. Not just a voice, but votes.

On the flip side, every British citizen with a non-EEA partner, children with a non-EEA partner, and a non-EEA elderly dependant has become an activist. Not because they want to, but because the attack on family forces them to.

I think it's time to make those voices heard, and those votes count.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing my story.