UK’s draconian immigration laws mirror Trump Administration’s family separation laws.
At the Women’s March London ‘Bring the Noise protest last month, where 70,000 women, children and men marched against Donald Trump visit to the UK, many of the speakers spoke out against US policy of keeping the children of migrants entering the US. Images that have emerged recently of children in cages were deeply reprehensible and caused an unprecedented furore around the world, with the ensuing backlashes eventually leading to a reversal of the policies. However, some young children forcibly separated from their parents could not recognise their own mothers and father when reunited and cried as though they were being handed back to strangers.
It also led to many activists questioning our own government’s policies towards immigrants and migrant workers. While the UK government does not employ room size cages within which to lock migrant workers in, they do employ similar policies which have seen countless families forcibly separated so that the government can fulfil very strict quotas to slash immigration figures. Yesterday’s article in the Guardian related the first-hand testimony of a mother detained after dropping her two-year-old child off at the nursery. It would be three months before they would be reunited, and now both mother and child suffer anxiety, stress and depression.
Saleem Dadabhoy hasn’t seen his daughter for nearly a year now thanks to a crackdown by the government against highly skilled migrant workers
Another one of the victims of the Government’s crackdown on migrants is Saleem Dadabhoy, who came to the UK as a student in 2010, and subsequently settled under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, making the UK a permanent home for himself and his family. However, when Dadabhoy filed an ‘indefinite leave to remain’ application as a Highly Skilled Migrant Worker (HSMW) in April 2017, he was refused under Article 322(5) of the Immigration Act. As a result, his wife and daughter were forced to leave the UK soon after, and could not lodge appeals against the Home Office’s because their ‘right to remain’ in the UK was entirely dependent on Mr Dadabhoy’s visa status. Mr Dadabhoy himself has decided not to leave but to remain in the UK and challenge the decision, which he claims is flawed because the Home Office didn’t take into account the difference between net and gross incomes.
However, this has not been an easy decision for Dadabohy, as he has now been apart from his family for some eight months now. So why doesn’t he leave and resettle back in Pakistan or any other neighbouring country? After all, he is educated and has a reputable background in business. He could easily return and settle into a new career easier than most. However, he has decided to stay in the UK and fight the Home Office, primarily so that others in similar situations as him do not have to go through what he has been going through for the past 18 months now. He concedes that his family’s financial backing has made it easier for him.
“Money isn’t important to me,” he said. “My family has enough to enable me to hire the best lawyers and barristers for this fight over whatever period it takes.
“I’m doing this because paragraph 322(5) links me to terrorism, which is the last thing a Muslim would want to be associated with because it not only hijacks and sabotages your identity but also restricts you to travel around the world, which would be especially damaging to me, belonging as I do to a business family who has property interest around the globe,” he said. “Even if I returned to Pakistan tomorrow, this paragraph 322(5) would make it virtually impossible for me to get a business visa, which would be a great hindrance to my family’s business, and my career and personal life.”
But the battle to ‘clear his name’ hasn’t been without casualties; “it is real torture, not being able to be with my family and see my daughter. I don’t know if she will even recognise me now that she hasn’t seen me properly for the past eight months”. Although modern technology such as video calling has helped bridge the physical distance a little, the fact remains that
Dadhaboy is on borrowed time. He has many further obstacles to overcome before he can be reunited with his family, including challenging his deportation order, which also prevents him from working or applying for any other type of UK visa. Although the current Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced an urgent review into the use of a clause solely intended for those convicted of terrorism offences, this is still not going far enough for the many already caught up in the current quagmire. “Why have people like me been singled out? Because we are an easy target for the Home Office; we comply with the rules and provide our up to date contact and address details. But the Government doesn’t understand that by getting rid of an HSM worker like myself so that they meet their own ridiculous immigration targets, they are depriving the UK of migrants who contribute far more than they take, in terms of paying taxes and providing professional services. Very soon there will be a great shortage of teachers, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals. It’s a ticking time bomb”.
Indeed, all Saleem Dadabhoy can do now is wait for yet another appeal to be exhausted while the distance and time spent apart between him and his family grow ever greater. “In the UK, bureaucracy, immigration targets and red tape can be just as effective as keeping families apart as cages”.