Posted on May 16th 2012
This letter appeared (top of the letters page) in The Times today. The Times has a paywall, so we thought we'd repeat it here. We hope it has some effect on the readership and the powers that be.
Current Home Office proposals to introduce new restrictions on British citizens and settled persons who wish to sponsor their non-EU family members to join them in the UK are a blunt and disproportionate policy instrument. These proposed changes would keep families apart and would further marginalise those who already face disadvantages in society.
The proposed measure of a minimum income threshold could mean that individuals earning less than £25,700 a year would not be able to bring a non-EU spouse or partner to live with them in the UK. The income requirement would rise to as much as £53,600 to allow a person to sponsor a spouse and three dependent children. This would potentially prevent half of the UK’s working population from living with their nuclear family in the UK. In addition, theproposed change would discriminate against women, people with disabilities, young people and some ethnic minorities as the average earnings of these groups are lower than the national median income.
While the Home Office has suggested that these changes would reduce costs to the public purse, they have produced no evidence to show that people joined here by a foreign family member constitute a burden on the tax system. In addition, the government should not interfere with people’s right to live with their family members in the UK in order to reduce net migration numbers.
We therefore call upon the Home Secretary to abandon these proposed changes to the rules, which would prevent many from enjoying their right to a family life in the UK. They would threaten efforts to promote stable family life across society as well as the integration of migrants in the UK.
Dr Rob Berkeley, Director, Runnymede Trust
Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum
Kamena Dorling, Migrant Children’s Project Manager, Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Don Flynn, Director, Migrants’ Rights Network
Vaughan Jones, Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects
Chris Mead, Founder, Family Immigration Alliance
Pragna Patel, Founder and Director, Southall Black Sisters
Habib Rahman, Chief Executive, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Emma Scott, Director, Rights of Women