Migrants’ Rights Network: Immigration controls, but at what cost?

by , under Alan Anstead

Alan Anstead






PM Theresa May has now set out her vision for a UK outside the EU. UKREN Coordinator Alan Anstead takes a look at what this could mean to real families where one partner is from an EU country and the other a Brit. Along the way he shares his personal story as someone in just this situation.

From reading Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech about the UK’s departure from the EU, it is quite clear that her government’s highest priority is to limit immigration. It would appear this is categorized above all other negotiable issues. What state the UK economy would be left in after Brexit appears to matter little so long as those horrible foreigners could be kept out or kicked out. Is this about protecting British people’s livelihoods? I think not.

Skype families

Monique Hawkins is a Dutch passport holder who is married to a British man and has two children, who are British citizens, and has lived in the UK for 24 years. To get some kind of guarantee in the midst of much uncertainty over the residence rights of UK-based EU nationals she applied for permanent residence status. This was rejected and she received a letter from the Home Office telling her to make arrangements to leave the UK.

The government already has a track record of breaking up families. Non-EU spouses who wish to live in the UK to join their British husband or wife have to prove that the British person earns at least £18,600 (more if you have dependent children), which is some £5000 above the minimum wage. This has created ‘Skype families’, families separated because of immigration controls whose contact is via the internet.

The government is about to create thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, more Skype families.

Home Office letter?

My wife is Latvian. We have been friends for 17 years and we got married last year. My wife has never worked in the UK. She has looked after our small boy, and our children from previous marriages. She has never been a burden on the British state. But like Monique Hawkins, she too would not meet the criteria for permanent residence status. Will she receive a letter from the Immigration Minister telling her to leave the country after the UK leaves the EU? If she did, and we exhaust all rights of appeal and litigation using the Human Rights Act is unsuccessful, then we would all pack our bags and head to Latvia. Bye bye UK (probably more expletive-laden words would be said, actually).

Or we lie low, trying to avoid contact with authorities. I have worked with Roma people for many years, an ethnic group of 10 million people across Europe who have been persecuted since they came to Europe some 700 years ago. They have survived – at great cost – genocide, discrimination and prejudice by often ‘lying low’, being almost invisible to those who wield power.

Grant permanent residence to EU nationals

It doesn’t have to come to the conclusion of being told by the Home Office to leave the country. It is within the government’s gift to grant all 3 million EU nationals who are already resident in the UK,  permanent residence status. The economy would profit from such a move – the great majority are hard working, tax paying people. And the break-up of thousands of families would be avoided.

Mrs May. If you want to be seen as a compassionate leader who has a long term vision for the country, then do it. Grant permanent residence to the 3 million UK-based EU nationals as charities and campaign groups demanded in the wake of your recent speech. Dear readers, if you are uncertain of your or your family’s residence status and the options available to you, check our initiative ‘Mobile EU citizens’. You might also want to join the mass lobby of parliament on 20 February to call on the government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Britain.

Read original posting here.

This piece was reprinted by Migrant Tales with permission.

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