The stories of families torn apart are the harshest indictment of Britain’s failed immigration policy

 By Andy Irwin

Immigration is once again set to be a key theme in the run up to this year’s general election. Backbench Conservatives want a tougher line in order to combat UKIP and Labour is attempting to position itself bizarrely as the ‘natural’ party of resistance against mass immigration. Toxic political narratives and campaigns of misinformation have propped up a profoundly negative way of looking at immigration in this country, particularly outside of London. All the while, families are suffering the effects of this government’s arbitrary caps and checks on immigration.

Just before Christmas I caught up with a friend for a drink. His brother had spent seven years living in Peru with his wife and had moved back to the UK about 18 months ago along with their two children (aged 10 and 12). He told me that his brother is currently living and working in the south east, while the two children are living with their grandparents in Wales so that he can work and support them. I asked after his brother’s wife and my friend responded that the couple were indeed still together, but that his wife continued to live in Peru.

Knowing that it is not unusual for families to be separated in this way as a result of difficult choices – the need to earn more money, to keep children safe from conflict and harm or guarantee them a better education – I did not question the separation of the children from their mother. That was until my friend lamented that the separation was not by choice, and that the mother, a Peruvian national, has now made several attempts to join the family in Britain but has been denied residency by the Home Office. In the meantime, the brother cannot afford to create a home with his children because he is also supporting his wife in Peru (and as a resident of London, I can testify that one needs a very good income to ensure accommodation in something more comfortable than an outhouse on wheels).

What makes this story a particularly harsh indictment of the current Government’s flailing immigration policy is the fact that three out of four members of the family are British nationals. The mother in this story has lived and worked in Britain, where she gave birth to two of its citizens who are now living in their homeland without their mother. Her ill-fated attempts to re-enter the UK are even more bizarre because her father was a British diplomat in Peru before his death. For a Government that claims to be so focused on marriage and strong ‘hardworking families’, it seems to be making a very good fist of driving a wedge between partners and each other and parents and their children.

The family’s repeated attempts to be reunited have fallen foul of a bureaucratic and administrative nightmare. Initially, the mother was denied entry because a diplomat didn’t believe that the couple were married or that they had met before, which beggars belief. It costs over £1,000 every time the family challenge the decision not to allow the mother to enter the UK which, given their situation, is nigh on impossible to meet and make entreaties with any regularity.

Leaving aside all of the oddities and ironies of this particular case, as a liberal, compassionate nation we simply cannot sit back and ignore the families torn apart senselessly to fulfil an unreachable, arbitrary quota. I cannot imagine being a parent and not being able to see my children growing up every day. Many people work in jobs where they are unable see their children every day, but our government is the reason that these two kids can’t see either of their parents every day. The 10 year old wrote a Christmas list with “Mummy” written at the top.

When this happens: the system is truly broken. To be complicit in keeping families apart in this way lacks all compassion and evades common sense. Our government and its supportive right-wing press outlets do not want us to look at immigration in these terms. Immigration is to be seen through the lens of distrust and resentment of the ‘other’, a social construct perpetuated to maintain discord among groups within society and keep them in their place – at the service of big business and in deference to the landed elite. When you break down this Government’s policy on immigration, you get two children separated from their mother at Christmas. What good has that done for anyone?

9 Responses

  1. Brendan Young

    A typical case of politicians and beaurocrats creating applying flawed solutions to address the real problem.
    When will political parties use advisers who can outsmart our dim beaurocrats in Whitehall and provide solutions to complex situations?

  2. Gillian Davies

    This exact situation happened to my son (a UK citizen) and his wife (a U.S. citizen) and their children one of whom was born here and the other of whom has permanent leave to remain. My son’s wife had to go back to the U.S. when her father was taken ill. Her visa expired while she was there and when she tried to return after her father’s death she was refused. Because she had been supporting my son who was completing his degree and not working it took over a year for him to drop out of university, find a job and work long enough to gather sufficient evidence to get his family back even though they had been living and working in the UK for 4 years prior to her departure. Unconscionable.

  3. Some bloke down the pub told me.......

    …the Elvis was alive and trying to come to London but the Home Office won’t give him a visa. Are we supposed to rely on that as evidence that the ” system is truly broken”? Or is it possible that we shouldn’t believe everything we are told third-hand?

    That is of course separate from the question how many people do you want to let into the UK? Eg what do you think will happen to the cost of accommodation in London if there are another 4 million immigrants over the next 10 years on top of the exploding birthrate from those already here?

    God luck with your liberal compassion when you reap the societal rewards of that.

    1. Duarte

      Ok … I know if another couple (one of my dearest friends) passing by the exact same difficulties … so this is not a made up example!

      The most ignobil think about this policy is that if the mas was from another european nation like France for example, he could be working here in the UK and would have the right to bring his peruvian wife to the country under the freedom of travel afforded to all european citizens.

      But because he is british, he needs to be earning at least 18.5K +2.5K for each children before he can qualify to bring them in.
      And in addition to all of this, they have to go trough a ridiculous bureaucratic process where the home office can put obstacles and mislead people about their rights.

      This government is actively discriminating against their own citizens taking away their rights (since they cannot take away the right of all other eu citizens)

      If this is not a reason for indignation I do not know what it!

      Theresa May is an evil person and this government in the pursuit of an ever more draconian immigration policy is destroying british families !

    2. “how many people do you want to let into the UK”
      Let’s start with letting in EVERY spouse or parent of any British citizen.
      Do you really think it’s mere ‘liberal compassion’ believing that families are better off together than apart?
      What elected leader in their right mind decides to solve the perceived problem of immigration by separating mothers and fathers from their young British children? It’s not just horrific it’s incredibly stupid and short-sighted.
      Good luck with your ignorance when you reap the societal rewards of breaking up loving couples and denying children the love and support of their parents.

      1. Duarte

        Funny you talk about ignorance and seem to completely ignore the fact that every other EU citizen can already bring their spouse and children to the UK WITHOUT ANY OF THESE RESTRICTIONS!
        The issue here is one of fairness to your own countrymen. The UK government is restricting the rights of his own citizen because those are the only ones they can control.

        1. Read my post again, Duarte, and you will realise that I was replying to the post above yours (‘some bloke down the pub’). Notice that I quoted him: “how many people do you want to let into the UK?”.

          You raised some valid points but I was not replying to your post so, regrettably, you have vented at the wrong person.

          I am fully aware that EU citizens have more rights than I had as a Brit married for over 5 years to a non EU women who was also the mother of my 2 young British children. The UK government forced my family apart for a year and I will never forgive Theresa May for the damage she and her colleagues (especially Mark Harper) caused my family, and for the pain and helplessness they continue to cause so many good people who are stuck in the same boat of despair that I was travelling on.

          For the record, this is my family:

  4. Francisca

    Great article and we’ll highlighted. The plight of thousands of families have been unheard since the family immigration rules changed July 2012.
    Too many children separated from their mothers and fathers with no fault of their own, citizens being uprooted due to the harsh income threshold.
    These rules are both barbaric and discriminatory. Are you suggesting that only a rich person can marry a foreigner?? Yes!
    As non European members, they have no right to claim any state benefits! It’s stamped in each and every single passport, so the government’s attempt to c
    Blame non eu nationals for being a burden on the system is total and non factual bs.
    If the uk government believes in family christian values, how come they break basic human and child rights on a daily basis? Sucking people dry each time the apply for a visa that will be failed by total negligence of a home office officer, only to be taken to court and then overturn at last minute so that home office barristers don’t go through embarrassment.
    People lives are sadly, another % in the statistics of this country! Shame on you Theresa May!!

  5. I am an affected father of these stupid restrictions. Its over 2 years now that I am separated from two kids (Now 5 and 10 years) and wife, who are all British citizens. The financial restrictions are so tough, it borders on the side of inhumanity!

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