During the COVID-19 crisis of 2020-21, we have all become even more aware of the importance of family. Children need to maintain family connections with all who love and care for them.
Yet still, today, governments everywhere put policies in place that mean children miss out on growing up with their family. That can be one or both their parents, and other family members. That means they are at higher risk of childhood trauma. The video shows young kids voicing the question: ‘Why did you leave me?’.
This remains a tragedy for many children separated from their parents at the US-Mexican border during the Trump presidency. It is a tragedy in Australia for many Aboriginal and indigenous Australians 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; they believe in “precautionary removals” instead.
All these government actions fail to understand what we know well: the immediate, severe impact that every child removal causes and to prioritise helping parents and families earlier. Each of the 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; they’re not based on the science of what’s best for children, nor on children’s rights.
Reunite Families UK
Reunite Families UK is one example of people taking action. It was set up by mothers in the UK affected by the government’s immigration rules in 2012. The rules require a UK Citizen to earn a Minimum Income before their non-EU spouse or partner can join them. Nearly half the UK population does not earn the £18,600 pa minimum.
So these rules cause physical, emotional and financial stress on many families. Some are forced to become single parent families while trying to work enough hours to meet the requirement. The group says the children are severely affected by being torn away from both their parents. One parent is unable to enter the UK and the other is working long hours.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil joined a rally in 2020 outside Parliament House in London. He said that in most countries in Europe, children have the same rights of family reunion as adults do. But that bizarrely the UK doesn’t do that. The government has resisted giving children the same rights and have their families with them. “It’s not a big ask, actually,” he said.
The mothers of Reunite Families UK are passionate about bringing forward a more humane and fair family immigration policy. That will ensure the welfare of the children, safeguard their human rights and look after the families as a whole.