Refugee families

Concerns have been raised with me over the current family reunion criteria for refugees and those with humanitarian protection status in the UK that may be keeping families apart.

The Government has stated as recently as November 17, that they do not have any intention to extend the current family reunion criteria. However, the Immigration Bill returned to the House of Commons on December 1 for its Report Stage and Third Reading, and I know that organisations such as the Refugee Council have called for this Bill to be amended to extend the refugee family reunion criteria.

My colleagues in the Shadow Home Office Team tabled an amendment to the Immigration Bill which would require a review of the existing refugee family reunion rules. The review would have to consider options for extending the criteria for family reunion, as well as the failure to implement Dublin Convention III, which allows for spouses or children under 18 with refugee status or those granted humanitarian protection to be reunited with family members in the UK.

I hope the Government will support this amendment and ensure that this important review of these rules takes place. If the amendment is passed, the review would have to be completed within six months of the Immigration Bill becoming law.

Overall,  the Government’s Immigration Bill is disproportionate and divisive and it will not reduce illegal immigration, which the Government state it is intended to do. Instead, I fear it will lead to reduced social cohesion, widespread discrimination and the punishment of the children of illegal immigrants for their parents’ actions. It is for these reasons that I voted against the Immigration Bill at its Second Reading in the House of Commons on October 13, but the Bill passed with the support of Government MPs.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK over the next five years. Indeed, Britain has a long, proud history of providing sanctuary for those fleeing persecution. However, this is now the greatest refugee crisis that we have seen since the Second World War and I do not believe that the Government’s plans are anywhere near equal to the scale of this humanitarian catastrophe.