Wednesday 19 March 2014

How Tory immigration rules discriminate against British children

The immigration rules in the UK are an absolute shambles, and have been for decades. Despite their immigration rhetoric, the Tories have made the situation a whole lot worse since the Lib-Dems enabled them back into power in 2010.

Most people have views on immigration, but the vast majority don't really have a clue how the immigration system actually works. In this article I'm going to explain how some of the most ludicrous elements of the UK immigration system actually end up discriminating against British families.

The Tories make a big show of pretending to clamp down on immigration, and plenty of hopelessly ill-informed people buy into their ludicrous propaganda charade of "Go Home" vans and draconian restrictions on certain demographic groups.

The demographic group I'm going to focus on in this article is British people that happen to have fallen in love and married (and perhaps had children with) non-EU citizens.

In June 2012 the Tory Home Secretary Theresa May introduced new immigration rules to prevent low-mid income British citizens from bringing their foreign spouses to live in the UK. Her new rules set out stringent family income conditions.

If a British citizen earns below the arbitrary income threshold of £18,600 (which increases by £3,800 for the first dependent child and then £2,400 for every subsequent child), they are prevented from bringing their non-EU spouse into Britain, and faced with the stark choice of either splitting up their family, or keeping their family together and living in exile from their own country. Thus a UK citizen with a non-EU spouse and two children must earn £24,800 per year in order to live in the UK (the potential earnings of the non-EU spouse are barred from consideration, no matter how highly skilled they may be).

The fact that the prospective incomes of the non-EU spouse are not counted, means that these rules discriminate against families in which the British partner is the primary child carer or the lower earner. 

The fact that the same arbitrary income requirements apply across the whole UK mean that the rules discriminate strongly in favour of people from London and the South East (where incomes are higher) and strongly against people from poorer regions like the North East of England.

Research by Oxford University Migration Observatory shows that of UK citizens in employment 47% would not be able to bring their foreign spouse to the UK. This rises to 61% for women and 51% for people from Wales, however only the 29% of London's poorest working residents are denied the right to live with a non-EU spouse because of these discriminatory rules.

Amazingly this law is only been applied to British citizens, because the non-EU spouses of citizens from every other country within the EU are protected from this kind of blatant economic discrimination under EU law. Thus, if a non-EU citizen is married to a German, Pole, Spaniard, Greek or any other EU nationality, they do not have to comply with these stringent new immigration rules and are free to settle in the UK without worrying about these earnings restrictions, which only ever apply if the non-EU immigrant is married to a British citizen.

These draconian new rules have forced thousands of British families to either split up and live in separate countries, or for the British citizen (and their British children) to live in exile from their own country in order to keep the family unit together.

These rules which glided through parliament lubricated by acres of tabloid rhetoric about "getting tough on immigration" are an absolute abomination. Just think about it for a minute. What kind of person would make the ideal kind of immigrant?

Someone who is already integrated into British culture by virtue of being the spouse (and parent) of other British citizens? Someone who in all likelihood speaks some English with their British family members? People who perhaps have valuable skills? People who are planning to stay in the UK on a long-term basis, rather than saving money by working in the UK for a few years before returning to their homeland?

These are precisely the kinds of people that this draconian legislation discriminates against!

This disgraceful legislation openly discriminates against British families, but the minimum income conditions (which were the highest in the world last time I checked) ensure that it is only the families of the poor and ordinary ("the lower orders" as they are seen by the Tory establishment) that suffer this discrimination. The wealthy families, and the families of other EU citizens (virtually no matter what their income) are entirely unencumbered.

What makes this appalling situation so much worse is that the Tories have actually made the immigration system easier for super-wealthy non-EU citizens who possess the wealth to simply buy their way in. Buying their way in directly is actually the expensive way of doing it (UK residency can be bought in just 2 years at a cost of £10 million), because it is equally possible for them to buy citizenship of another EU country (Malta for example - which costs about £500,000) then take advantage of European Freedom of Movement legislation to settle in the UK.

It doesn't matter how these super-rich individuals managed to acquire their wealth in the first place (Russian oligarchs, corrupt Chinese officials, members of the inner circle within African dictatorships, whatever), the gate is as wide open to them as much as it welded shut for thousands of British citizens simply because the partner or parent they love happens to be from outside the EU. 

What is even more shocking still, is that having introduced these draconian rules for ordinary British people in 2012, the Tories are actually looking at more ways in which they can make it even easier for rich foreigners (with no familial connection to the UK whatever) to buy themselves British nationality.

One of the most important factors to consider here are the rights of the children in the British families that are being discriminated against by the Tory led government. These British kids are being forced into a situation where they must live in exile from their own country, or to live without one of their parents. This is an open example of discrimination against British children, by their own government, based on nothing more than their parental income.

Tony Benn once borrowed the words of Oscar Wilde to accuse the Tories of measuring the price of everything and the value of nothing, and Theresa May's ludicrous immigration rules which discriminate against British children based on nothing more than their parental income (whilst they simultaneously make it easier for rich foreigners to buy their way in) are a prime example of this warped Tory financialisation of everything.

The Tories have demonstrated their determination to serve the interests of the super-rich, no matter what their nationality, whilst openly discriminating against British children on purely financial grounds. If you are not utterly disgusted by this, it's hard to imagine the kind of warped mentality you must have, in which wealthy foreigners (no matter the source of their wealth) are inherently more valuable than British children.

This abusive Tory immigration system makes me thoroughly ashamed to be British, yet the mainstream media oligopoly and the Tory establishment continue to weave their ludicrous propaganda narratives about how they are supposedly improving the situation, and millions are naive enough to believe it, simply because they are unaware of how the system openly discriminates against British people, and in favour of the global super-rich.

What you can do ...

As a conclusion I'd like to offer some advice on what you can do, which I'll present in two sections, one for those that are directly affected by these rules, and another for those who see this grotesque discrimination against their fellow Brits as an abomination and want to do something about it.

If you are affected

The first thing to do is consider your family tree. If you have grandparents from any other EU state (or an Italian paternal great-grandparent), you can apply for their nationality and freely enter the UK with your spouse under European Freedom of movement legislation as a citizen of your ancestral nation.

If the ancestry route is not an option for you, you can consider moving to another EU state with your spouse (perhaps Holland or Spain). Once you acquire residency there, I believe you are protected
(as a resident of another EU state) from this kind of economic discrimination under Freedom of Movement Legislation, should you wish to return to the UK. The problem with this strategy is that after a few months of freely living Spain or the Netherlands, you might just decide that you'd rather not return to the country that openly discriminates against your spouse (and children) and to stay where you are!

Thirdly, I'd suggest that you consider legal action, especially if you have children. If you take legal action on behalf of your child, against the economic discrimination they are suffering based on nothing more than the economic circumstances of their parents (you), theirs could be the landmark case that blows this whole stinking charade out of the water. There are several potential avenues to take from a legal perspective, including - economic discrimination, collective punishment and violation of the right to family life. It would take a very brave couple to bring such an action, but in my view such a case would certainly be winnable.

Lastly, get in touch with the activist group BritCits. Even if you find that they can't help you in any material way, it is always good to know that there is a supportive community of people that are enduring the same hardships as you are. There is also this Facebook group called I love my foreign spouse.

If you are not directly affected

You should write to your MP to express your discontent at these ludicrous immigration rules.

To ensure the best response you could follow these basic guidelines:

  • 1. Be polite: This is fundamentally important because rude, crude or aggressive correspondences are extremely unlikely to elicit positive responses.
  • 2. Include your full name and postal address (even in emails): This creates a statutory obligation on your MP to respond to your concerns.
  • 3. Be specific: If you ask them specific questions, you make it much more difficult for them to fob you off with simplistic party-line propaganda narratives. If they fail to answer your specific question in their reply, write back to them to insist that they provide a proper answer.
  • 4. Ask that they raise the subject in parliament: You are within your rights to request that they raise any issue in parliament (during Prime Ministers questions, or during Home Office questions for example). Your MP has no obligation to raise your question, but they are inordinately more likely to ask it should you actually request them to do so, than if you don't bother.
  • 5. Cite some evidence and ask for specific feedback on it: Please feel absolutely free to cite this article, however there are plenty of other webpages that address these issues from different perspectives, so don't feel that you need to cite this specific page.
You can find contact details for your MP on the parliament website.
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