Theresa May has said the right to family life was “not an absolute right”
A friend of mine is in love. I recently found out she’s engaged to the man she met years ago, and they are to hold their wedding this year. But here’s the twist: the man in her life wasn’t born in the UK, where my infatuated friend was born, and lives. This means that their love has had conditions placed upon it. Not by her, and not by him but by the UK Border Agency.
Their relationship is ransomed at £18,600 per annum.
Ostensibly, this requirement of salary is designed to stop my friend’s beloved from sponging off the state, though government statistics show migrants to be less than half as likely to claim benefits than those born in Britain (whilst paying the same taxes of course).
Theresa May has said this move was not about numbers. She’s right, of course; it was about winning favourable headlines, about scapegoating, about blaming the monetary and healthcare and employment shortcomings of the British state on people who can’t repudiate any of these measures because they’re in a land far away.
This move also came into force in July 2012, but it has largely been ignored since then and it is still forcing families apart. My friend’s recent engagement brought back home that this is an issue, and will continue to be.
The manifesto commitment of the Conservative party could hardly have been clearer. Britain will be the most family-friendly country in Europe.
“Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. Britain’s families will get our full backing across all our policies. We need good, strong families to help our society work well. We will support families to stay together.”
And yet the Home Secretary has boasted of her intention to split up thousands of families each year. But only the poor ones. And those with a foreigner in their midst.
Have ministers not considered the inimicality, implications and incredulity of this move though?
- It’s not only heartless to force an estimated 15,000 families a year to emigrate or live apart, it gives lie to their manifesto claims of supporting family, a pillar of society.
- It brings back that old worry that you’re only relevant to the Conservatives if you’re rich enough.
- UK-born sponsors are claiming benefit which would not be claimed if their foreign-born spouse was able to join them in the UK and take care of the children involved.
- British children are spending years away from one parent. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (enshrined into UK law in the Children Act 2004) play no part on Home Office decision making.
- Those born in the UK, even if they have a wealthy partner and don’t need to work can’t live together. An Australian man who is a CEO of a multi-national company in Dubai earning £250,000 a year and has a £3.5m property in London is unable to live with his wife and children as she, his sponsor, does not work and his earnings and assets do not count.
- Other countries allow British citizens to join their spouses in their home countries relatively easily. In the western world, only Norway has a higher financial requirement than the UK and most other countries have no requirement, a requirement that is not fixed or a requirement between £5000-12,000.
I’ve read the case studies by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, and I’m simply upset. These people are in love and have had their lives forced apart whilst trying their best to make a good life for their children. The JCWI calls them United by Love and Divided by Law; that’s exactly how it is.
On a more pleasant note, my besotted friend is a chemist, so earns enough, and will be joined by the love of her life next year. I know they’ll be very happy together.