"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 5 July 2013

More on the Lords debate

For the quick summary, see : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/lords-debate.html

https://twitter.com/LibDemLords :
New on the Lib Dem Lords blog: Baroness Hamwee - Family migration rules have provoked outrage, puzzlement and anguish http://libdemlords.org.uk

'I got 10 minutes yestderday to urge the Government to review the rule on family migration introduced a year ago next week.  I could have filled 10 hours with the experiences I have heard – I don’t like to call them case studies as if people’s stories are of only academic interest.

'The themes of the new rules were to stop abuse, promote integration and reduce any burden on the taxpayer.  Stopping abuse (sham marriages) – does that mean separating a couple who have been together for 12 years, but only she and their British-born daughter can come to the UK, and he and their foreign born son cannot?

'Promoting integration – how they do so is beyond me.  And reducing the burden on the taxpayer – an attractive proposition, if it didn’t mean single parents looking to the state for support which would not be needed if both parents were together to look after the children.  In fact, an academic study, using government figures, suggests that the rules will cost the UK £850m over 10 years in lost economic activity.

'A British sponsor of a non-EEA spouse or partner has to show an income of £18,600 (a level that getting on for half UK wage-earners could not meet), and more if there is a child.  It is now in effect impossible to bring in elderly dependents.

'The separation of children from a parent is particularly worrying.  Early years are crucial developmentally as well as in terms of well-being.  The Children’s Commissioners of the four UK nations have supported the call for a review made by the all-party inquiry which I chaired.  And only this week, in another part of the legislative forest, we were discussing a clause in a government bill that the court is to presume that the involvement of a parent in the life of a child will further the child’s welfare.

'The detail of the rules is worse than confusing, and the forms and evidence required are problematic.  Not much other than straight salary counts, so it’s difficult if the non-Brit is the main earner, or if the Brit is self-employed with a fluctuating income.  Savings can be counted in lieu – up to £62,500 may be needed – but only cash held for a period (it strikes me that anyone holding a lot of liquid cash is likely not to be handling his assets well).  Third-party support doesn’t count, which is felt particularly acutely by grandparents who would like to be part of their grandchildren’s lives.

'And yet, and yet… if you are able to live and work in another part of the EU with your non-EEA spouse/partner, after a few months you can both come into the UK, settle and work here.

'No surprise that the rules have provoked outrage, puzzlement and anguish.  British citizens and taxpayers not able to live with their families in their own country.  Of course the sense of unfairness is so evident.

https://twitter.com/BaileyYamamoto :
Some very powerful speeches yesterday in the House of Lords from 3:41. Thank you!

https://twitter.com/migrants_rights :
Labour peers put out a statement on family migration following yesterday's debate in House of Lords http://www.labourlords.org.uk/family-matters

'Immigrants have benefited Britain over a great many years. They have come to our shores to help build and develop some of our major companies, sustain our National Health Service and win Nobel Prizes.

'It is because immigration is important that it needs to be controlled and its impact must be fair for all. We need to build common bonds including more emphasis on speaking English. We also need much stronger action to tackle the exploitation of migrant workers that also undercuts local workers. That means stronger National Minimum Wage regulations, more enforcement and higher fines, and a register to tackle rogue landlords.

'We need to recognise the different kinds of immigration – the type that works for Britain and the type that does not. This is why Labour supports policies to bring down the pace of migration, stronger controls on those coming to do low-skilled jobs, and action against bogus colleges. It is also why we would do more to cut illegal immigration and more to help universities recruit international students who contribute to our economy.

'Some changes made by the Coalition to immigration rules are however, having unfortunate consequences.

'In July last year major changes to family related immigration categories came into effect. With limited exemptions, British citizens or settled persons wishing to sponsor their non-EEA national spouse or partner to join them must now demonstrate a minimum gross annual income of £18,600 - and more if they are also sponsoring dependent children. New foreign spouses or partners must also wait for five years (rather than the previous two) before they are eligible to apply for permanent settlement in the UK. More restrictive criteria has also been introduced for adult dependent relatives of British citizens who wish to settle here.

'At the time we expressed our support for strengthening the family migration rules to protect UK taxpayers, and said that if people want to make this country their home they should not be a burden on public funds. But we also cast doubt on the government’s approach, focusing on the sponsor’s salary, and called for a fair framework for those who fall in love and build family relationships across borders.

'A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration on the new rules has just been published. Its key findings are that some British citizens and permanent residents in the UK, including those in full-time employment, have been separated – in a number of cases permanently – from a non-EEA partner, and also their children, as a result of the income requirement. Indeed, with some families where the non-EEA partner was the main earner with a medium or high salary, this was disregarded under the new rules.

'It looks as though the doubts we raised have unfortunately been proved right. Among the APPG’s recommendations is a review of the level of the income requirement – to minimize any particular impacts on UK sponsors as a result of ethnicity, gender, age or indeed region of origin. They also recommend that migration rules should ensure children are supported to live with their parents where their best interests require this.'

'The government’s response remains to be seen. But as it stands, the new rules and their application are doing little to strengthen and enhance family life.'

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