During the COVID-19 crisis of 2020-21, we have all become even more aware of the importance of family – and especially of children being able to maintain family connections with all who love and care for them.
Yet still, today, governments around the world put policies in place that result in children missing out on growing up with one of their parents, and other family members, in their life and being at higher risk of childhood trauma as a result. It remains a tragedy to this day for many children separated from their parents at the US-Mexican border during the Trump presidency. It remains a tragedy, born of inter-generational trauma, for many Aboriginal Australians and other indigenous populations whose forebears were forcibly removed as children from their parents. It is an increasing tragedy for children, every day, separated from parents by “modern” child protection and family court systems that believe in “precautionary removals” and don’t understand the immediate, severe impact that every child removal causes or prioritise helping parents and families earlier.
Each of these examples of forced separations of children from parents share one thing in common: they are based on the ideology (and consequent policies) of the day, not on the science of what’s best for children. Nor on children’s rights.
Reunite Families UK is a group set up by mothers in the UK affected by immigration rules introduced by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012. According to Reunite Families UK, this “means that a UK Citizen has to meet a Minimum Income Requirement of £18,600 pa in order to be able to bring a non-EU spouse/partner to live in the UK with their family. This is a figure that nearly half the UK population does not earn, particularly in areas where incomes are lower. These rules cause physical, emotional and financial stress on many families who are forced to become single parent families while trying to work enough hours to meet the requirement. It is particularly noted among our group that children are severely affected by being torn away from both parents, one who is unable to enter the UK and the other who is having to work long hours to meet requirements.”
“In nearly all countries in Europe, children have the same rights of family reunion as adults do.” said SNP MP Angus MacNeil, who joined a rally in 2020 outside Parliament House in London.
“Bizarrely the UK doesn’t do that, and … the Tory government has been resisting to give children the same rights and have their families with them. It’s not a big ask, actually,” he added.
The mothers who set up Reunite Families UK are passionate about bringing forward a more humane and fair family immigration policy that will ensure the welfare of the children and safeguard their basic human rights – as well as looking after families as a whole.