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Anniversary of new immigration rules

Anniversary of new immigration rules

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the harsh new immigration rules introduced on 9 July 2012. Tomorrow comes the Court of Appeal decision in the challenge to the spouse minimum income threshold.

The effects of these rules are really beginning to bite: much misery has been caused by family separation. Spouses are kept apart or exiled to another country, children are deprived of a parent and grandparents are left lonely, isolated and suffering while their children can only watch helplessly from afar.

All from the government that David Cameron said he wanted to be the most family friendly in history.

There were several events yesterday, including a demonstration outside the Home Office and the release by JCWI and BritCits of a new report on the adult dependent relative rules (covered here on FM). The full report can be read here and includes thanks to readers of this blog who contributed to it.

Divided family demonstration Demonstration outside the Home Office yesterday, via @BritCits

It is a depressing read. 79% of lawyers contacted had advised clients not to make applications because they do stand a chance of meeting the very restrictive criteria of the new rules. Of applications that were made almost none have been successful. Not a single decision under the new rules had considered the impact on affected grandchildren.

When the new rules were introduced there was no consultation at all on the critical part of the new rules. The justification for the changes were to reduce burden on taxpayers, promote integration, prevent and tackle abuse and contribute to reducing net migration. The report shows that none of these policy objectives are met to any significant extent by the new rules, which the Government estimated would save only £10 million over 10 years and which only reduce net migration by a tiny amount.

But to challenge the assumptions about old people being a burden, let us turn to some wise words on the value of grandparents by a well known politician:

But we have also certain cultural and economic assumptions which make us think about older people in terms of the cost, not the potential benefit they represent … Rather than seeing older people as liabilities, we need to see them as contributors.

The same politician went on to talk about the important role that grandparents can and do play:

In fact, often it’s grandparents who take children to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. As we all know, grandparents are the unofficial childminders of Britain … We need to restore the relationship between the generations. Because the paradox is that if we are to boost our birthrate, grandparents have a vital role to play. The falling birthrate is partly the consequence of parents not having enough support. So rather than just focusing on state services, let’s invest in the capacity that is there, latent in the social economy: older people.

Social responsibility, not just state responsibility.

The politician went on to talk about the importance of caring for one’s own parents and how hard it can be:

Indeed, one thing I think we’ve got badly wrong in this country is how we look after our parents as they get older. It’s not that we’ve got the wrong instincts. Most of us would like to have our parents living with us as long as possible. It’s just that it’s often really hard to do the right thing … We’re disrupting the generational relationship …

Research shows that a community with an unbalanced population – too many young people and not enough older people – is socially unstable.

Of course, the new immigration rules make it not just “really hard” but totally impossible.

The politician’s speech ended with a call to arms:

So to prepare for the massive demographic change that is coming, we will need to challenge our assumptions and change our behaviour – on every level. We need cultural change…

Seeing older people as a benefit to society, not a cost.

Understanding that older people are active and forward-looking participants in society.

And recognising that we must no longer treat older people as passive recipients of uniform state services.

That politician was David Cameron, back in 2006. Yet in power, his Government has made all of these assumptions he criticises and is depriving migrant and ethnic minority families of the benefit of active grandparents as well as preventing children from looking after their own parents as those parents get older.

Colin Yeo
Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

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