Last night the BBC concluded its three-part documentary about immigration lawyers and their clients, Who Should Get to Stay in the UK?. The series followed a variety of visa applicants and asylum seekers on their journey through the UK’s immigration system, giving the general public an insight into what it’s like to do battle with the Home Office on a daily basis.
Free Movement editor Colin Yeo provided some expert commentary during the series, while contributor Darren Stevenson was featured in episode 1 advising on employing chefs from outside the EU (spoiler: tough luck if your restaurant does takeaways).
The reviews were pretty good. The Guardian said that “the show made points rarely heard in mainstream discussions of immigration” while the more right-leaning Telegraph called it “a sobering insight into [the immigration system’s] endless loopholes and ever-changing rules”.
But what did ordinary viewers think? We’ve no idea, obviously, but here’s what people on Twitter said.
The series showed the Home Office at its, er, finest
Eligible for settlement and yet Home Office refuses Onyi leave to remain. Who on earth are these people behind the letters, the decisions? What motivates them? What’s their agenda? It’s almost personal. #whoshouldgettostay— Saleyha Ahsan (@SaleyhaAhsan) June 27, 2019
I’ve been watching #whoshouldgettostay and it really does sum up how incompetent and cruel the home office are. I mean, I already knew, but it’s nice to see that message being shared widely on national television.— 🍭 JJ 🍭 (@LiLeiLou) June 21, 2019
Absolutely disgusted with how these poor people are being treated @sajidjavid why is nothing being done. They have been here some of them all of their lives. They are BRITISH! @ukhomeoffice #whoshouldgettostayintheuk — Wesley Shepherd (@wesshepherd) June 20, 2019
The @BBC documentary ‘Who should get to stay in the UK’ is an indictment of May’s hostile environment at the Home Office and its appalling consequences, in particular for the Windrush generations. Shameful. #whoshouldgettostay— John Howarth MEP (@JohnHowarth1958) June 20, 2019
The family migration rules came in for particular criticism
#whoshouldgettostay seeing the UK break up families, it’s so sad and cruel.— Abigail Owens (@90andboredAO) June 27, 2019
I’m disgusted by our immigration system and how it treats families and couples. Just completely disgusted. #WhoShouldGetToStay— Nichola Carter (@carternichola) June 27, 2019
Our immigration system is appalling. Why split up a family and send a mother half way round the world just to make an application I come back?#whoshouldgettostay— Calum Shaw (@calum) June 27, 2019
For lawyers, it was a chance for some public legal education
Prior to 2006 British nationality law defined “father” as the man married to the woman who gives birth to the child. So a child with unmarried parents could not inherent citizenship from their father (but since 2014 the have been able to register as citizens) #WhoShouldGetToStay https://t.co/3Vj163N1Pe— Iain Halliday (@iainhalliday91) June 20, 2019
Shankea’s case is really sad. Our immigration rules treat all people over age of 18 the same, regardless of how or when they came to be in the UK. It’s not right that a girl brought to the UK by her father age 12 is not being granted human rights leave #whoshouldgettostay— John Vassiliou (@john_vassiliou1) June 20, 2019
Some of the practitioners on the programme came over well
This guy rashid has me crying and his lawyer is such a nice person #whoshouldgettostay— Toñi Luisa (@ToniLuisaL) June 14, 2019
Hi Ousman @ousmannoor Just watched ‘Who should get to stay in the UK’ on #BBC catch up. I shed a couple of tears when you announced Rashed had won his case. What a beautiful moment. Congratulations #whoshouldgettostay I hear after 8 years you’re moving on?— Lee Mallinson (@coachmally) June 15, 2019
Good job from Ousman Noor, he deserves to look that smug #whoshouldgettostay— Greg Ó Ceallaigh (@gregoceallaigh) June 13, 2019
But not all the time
Yep. Sailing quite close to the wind on national tv!— Simon Canter (@simoncanter) June 13, 2019
And some people thought that putting immigrants on TV was wrong
Hi @BBC. After learning that tonight you’re launching a new programme where you have turned immigrants into entertaining commodities, called “Who Should Get To Stay In The UK?”, this wee immigrant has a message for your xenophobic arses 😘 pic.twitter.com/XXtD9qqIz7— WG Saraband 🏴🇵🇹🏳️🌈 (@wgsaraband) June 13, 2019
To which we can only say, try actually watching it before passing judgement — now on iPlayer.