Investigation launched into the effects of family immigration laws by children’s commissioner
Children’s commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, has launched a consultation investigating the impact of immigration rule changes in 2012 following concerns that a “child’s fundamental right to be brought up by both parents […] was being breached by the rules.”
In 2012 the government introduced new minimum income thresholds of £18,600 for anyone wishing to sponsor a spouse born outside the EU to come and live in the UK, and £22,400 for a child born outside the EU.
The rule changes triggered an inquiry into the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK, led by Atkinson, which highlighted the harm immigration laws were having on children seeking asylum.
Atkinson is now concerned that changes to the family immigration rules in 2012 are splitting families and harming children.
On the launch of the investigation, Atkinson said: “On the evidence that I have seen, I consider that the family migration rules need to undergo a thorough and formal review in order to ensure that the best interests of children are a primary consideration.”
Immigration campaign groups and affected families have welcomed the investigation.
Trustee of the campaign group BritCits, Sonel Mehta, said of the rule change: “They make a mockery of family values and violate the sanctity of marriage in causing the separation of families, keeping our citizens in exile and forcing British children unnecessarily into single-parent upbringing.”
Higher levels of English language requirements and minimum income thresholds laid out in the latest immigration laws prove difficult for a great deal of migrant families to adhere to.
The Home Office has responded by saying: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make contribution. But family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate if they are to play a full part in British life. The minimum income threshold is achieving those objectives.”
In 1991 the UK Government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), setting out what all children and young people need to be happy and healthy.
While the Convention is not incorporated into national law, it still has the status of a binding international treaty.
The Home Office has stated that they will consider any finds from the report when it is published.