Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about child refugee family reunion. This is an issue which comes up frequently and I know many constituents feel very strongly about it.
Families belong together and we should be doing everything we can to help reunite those that have been separated after experiencing the trauma of war, persecution and conflict.
I have repeatedly voted for amendments to Government Bills, aimed at continuing existing arrangements for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, spouses and vulnerable adults to have access to family reunion with close relatives in the UK. Most recently, I voted to retain Lords Amendment 4 to the Immigration Bill, secured by Lord Dubs. Unfortunately, once again, the Government rejected this and it was removed from the Bill.
Without a new agreement with the EU, the existing arrangements will end this year and the Government’s proposals for family reunion in the future are woefully inadequate. Not only do the proposals remove all mandatory requirements to activate family reunions, they remove the child’s right to appeal against refusal and some children will no longer be considered at all. Other safeguards are also removed, such as deadlines.
The UK must continue to live up to its moral and legal obligations to refugees. My Labour colleagues and I will continue to support efforts to ensure the Government is held to account on its repeated commitment to the principle of family reunion and supporting vulnerable children.