I appreciate that concerns have been raised about family reunion rules and the effectiveness of their implementation, and that a number of organisations have also called for there to be an expansion of the criteria.
It has been clear for some time that more is needed to be done to reunite families, and I very much share concerns about the efficiency of the processes in place for those who are entitled to join family in the UK, particularly children. As we know, unaccompanied migrant children are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse.
A number of attempts were made to review the rules around family reunification for refugees, including options for extending the criteria for family reunion, during the passage of the Immigration Act 2016 in the last Parliament. It is incredibly disappointing, however, that the Government rejected these proposals and reiterated that it has no plans to extend the family reunion criteria.
The manifesto I stood on at the recent General Election in Ipswich promised to produce a cross-departmental strategy to meet our international obligations on the refugee crisis, and I hope this is something that the Government will now consider. I believe we need effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis and continue to uphold the proud British tradition of honoring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees.
I have signed EDM 190 on 17th July 2017, which ‘notes with deep concern the findings of the recent research report by Refugee Action, Slipping Through The Cracks, that a failure by the Home Office to follow its own guidance for supporting those seeking asylum in the UK is resulting in vulnerable people being wrongly denied assistance or suffering long delays to get the support they are entitled to, and that this is making vulnerable people homeless and leaving them unable to feed their families; further notes that the Refugee Action report follows highly critical reports on the asylum support system by the Home Affairs Committee in January 2017, and the Public Accounts Committee in April 2014; considers it vital that Home Office policy and practice adequately supports all asylum seekers while taking account of the particular needs of the most vulnerable, including victims of torture and trafficking; and calls on the Government urgently to commit to applying existing policy and guidance in all cases, including making decisions on support as quickly as possible, to put into practice a transparent approach to decision-making on asylum support, and to take urgent action to improve the standards and monitoring of asylum accommodation.’
I can assure you that I will follow the Government’s response to the refugee crisis closely.