Comments by Sanwar Ali:
UK visas has a poor record when it comes to discrimination and human rights. Safeguards are needed. Lord Dubs', who was a child refugee himself, efforts to improve safeguards should be supported. Equally important, if not more important, are people and systems to make sure that safeguards are effective. You need to have keen and determined people at the Home Office who care about making sure that people are being treated justly and fairly. Unfortunately, too much of the time UK visas at the Home Office seems to be determined to be nasty to migrants!
Priti Patel’s post-Brexit UK immigration bill has suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords. Despite the legislation passing its initial stages in the Commons, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a majority of 80, peers have given their approval for five amendments to be made to the bill.
The amendments include maintaining existing rules for unaccompanied child refugees following completion of the Brexit transitional period, which sees children reunited with close relatives in the UK.
It’s the second time that the so-called ‘Dubs amendment’ – proposed by Labour’s Lord Dubs – has been approved by peers, but rejected by MPs.
Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child, said: “Child refugees are the most vulnerable of all refugees. One of our concerns must be to tackle trafficking and give child refugees legal routes to safety.”
“If there are no legal routes to safety, the traffickers simply exploit vulnerable people and make a lot of money out of it and endanger the lives of the children,” Dubs added.
Support for the Lord Dubs amendment
Following the bill’s defeat in the House of Lords, Dubs took to Twitter, posting: “The Commons now needs to do the right thing by these uniquely vulnerable children and support the amendment.”
However, Baroness Williams – a Home Office Minister – said: “This government is equally as concerned as all peers about the wellbeing of vulnerable children and is committed to support them wherever we can.”
“The UK has made a credible and serious offer to the EU to agree new arrangements. It wouldn’t be right to undermine those negotiations through domestic legislation,” Williams added.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We have a long and proud history of providing protection to vulnerable children, and have presented a genuine offer to the EU on future reciprocal arrangements for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.”
The post-Brexit UK immigration bill suffered a number of additional defeats on proposed amendments, including:
- The ensuring of an inquiry into the impact of the immigration bill on social care – especially staffing – passed by 304 votes to 224
- Preventing British citizens from returning to the UK with their EU families from March 2022 facing financial conditions – passed by 312 votes to 223
- An amendment granting EU children in care settled status in the UK – passed by 323 votes to 227
- A further amendment requiring the government to provide physical proof to citizens of their settled status in the UK – passed by 298 votes to 192
The UK immigration bill will now go back to the Commons for review and approval. However, with a large government majority, its unlikely that the amendments will remain.
The setback is a blow for the government, with the bill now likely to involve a back and forth tussle as it gets passed between the Commons and the Lords.
Voting on the new bill had already been delayed due to a series of technical problems.
The new, post-Brexit UK immigration system is set to come into force on 1 January, 2021.
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