New immigration rules: targeted at Asians, again

Picture of a white man and a pregnant black woman, with a red line between themStark choice under new immigration rules: exile or family breakup | UK news | The Guardian

After the fiasco of the raised age limit for non-EU spouses (it was set at 21, ostensibly to prevent forced marriage), which was struck down by the courts on human rights grounds, the Government have proposed yet another social engineering measure that tells British citizens who they can and can’t marry. This time, they will be requiring the British partner to have an annual income of at least £25,700 (more if the foreign spouse has children). As the report says:

Immigration welfare campaigners say that the move will exclude two-thirds of British people – those who have a minimum gross income of under £25,700 a year – from living in the UK as a couple if they marry a non-EU national. They estimate that between 45% and 60% of the 53,000 family visas currently issued each year could fall foul of the new rules.

Ministers have also been considering extending the probationary period for overseas spouses and partners of British citizens from two to five years and introducing an “attachment test” to show that the “combined attachment” of the couple is greater to Britain than any other country.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has published a page attacking the new policies, including a dossier of case studies (PDF) in which shows how people will be adversely affected by the changes, with parents of British children being forced to live abroad and children in some cases ending up in orphanages. The government also wants to block the use of the Article 8 exemption for convicted foreign nationals facing deportations to “rare and exceptional cases”, meaning that their British family will be forced to move abroad if they are to remain a family.

The Daily Mail’s version of the story (which underestimates the necessary salary at £20,000) claims that the new rules “are designed primarily to combat claims that some foreigners are marrying Britons to take advantage of the UK’s generous welfare system” (as if most British people want to be used as someone’s ticket into the country). This sounds like a preposterous reason to change the marriage visa rules. There are two major complaints about the supposed ease of getting a marriage visa: one being that foreigners enter into bogus marriages so as to settle in the UK, not necessarily to use the welfare system (a fairly easy scam to detect), the second being that too many Asians marry people from the village back home, leading to generations who are brought up isolated from “mainstream” (i.e. white) society and do not speak English. This is blamed for every social ill associated with that community: terrorism, riots, poor educational achievement, and latterly the grooming and sexual abuse of young white girls.

Currently, no such rules affect people bringing spouses from other parts of the EU, many of which are much poorer than some countries outside it, such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all of which (except the USA) have welfare systems, so people have no more need to come here to “sponge off the state” than EU nationals do. These countries are included simply because it would be impossible for the government to legislate specifically for India and Pakistan, and people originating from those places, without giving rise to accusations of racism. But these must realistically be the biggest single group of people bringing in spouses from outside the EU — they cannot be middle-aged white men bringing in Thai brides. However, we live in an interconnected age in which people are better able to form relationships with people in other countries than they were 20 years ago, and not everyone who has access to the Internet, and who can afford to travel, earns £25,000. And British people mostly speak English, and most English speakers outside the UK live outside the EU.

It does appear obvious that the target for this is the Asian community, and specifically the working-class element of it — the bit about demonstrating attachment to this country makes that obvious. There is, however, no reason why any other British citizen who has genuinely formed a relationship with a foreign national and wants to marry them and settle down in this country should be prevented from doing so, unless the Government actually wants to force working-class British citizens who marry foreign nationals out of the country (not inconceivable given the likely electoral results). It is yet another unjust, media-targeted immigration clampdown and should be exposed as such and resisted by all means necessary.

Image source: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

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  • This is shocking - I know of two couples who wouldn’t have been able to be together if these rules had been in place earlier. This incidentally includes someone who did wind up on benefits - as carer for her British husband, but as a white, English-speaking American, she would often be party to discussions about “scrounging immigrants”,  finding that as a white woman from an English-speaking country, she didn’t count. 

    I don’t understand why we can’t tackle things which are objectively bad, like forced marriage, like social and cultural isolation and the abuse that underpins, like immigration scams and benefit fraud, without interfering in something which is objectively good - couples who love each other, choosing to commit and set up their lives together. If marriage is the backbone of society, as politicians and others keep claiming, we shouldn’t need to knock out vertebrae in order to tackle kidney stones.   

  • M Risbrook

    Muslim majority countries have excruciatingly tight immigration laws and nobody seems to complain about them apart from a small handful of white converts who want to permanently settle in such countries. Neither does anyone - both in the countries in question and the west - ever say that such laws are racist. Take Kuwait for example. It is virtually impossible for a foreigner to be granted citizenship. The law also states that only a father can pass on a Kuwaiti nationality. This means that somebody born in Kuwait of a Kuwaiti mother and foreign father who has lived 30 years in Kuwait without ever stepping foot outside is not eligible for Kuwaiti citizenship. If the country that the father originates from does not allow a father to pass on his citizenship to a child born outside of that country then the child is stateless. There are tens of thousands of stateless people in Muslim majority countries.

  • I have explained this issue to you in the past but just in case you didn’t bother to read last time: the laws of the Muslim countries of today are completely irrelevant to this, because not only are not all immigrants to the UK Muslim anyway, but those laws are not Islamic laws but simply secular laws made up by Muslims for the same reason any country might restrict who can come and live there. In the days of the Ottoman empire, any Muslim could move there and obtain citizenship simply by demonstrating that he or she was Muslim, because the empire regarded itself as the protector of the faith, and the faithful. Almost no Muslim country today has that in its constitution.

    The laws of tribal descent in Islam are indeed patrilineal, but tribal descent is not the same as a country being one’s homeland. So, it is not appropriate to refuse someone citizenship on such grounds. In the case of countries like Kuwait, they face impoverishment when the oil runs out, so they don’t want every Muslim coming to settle there when the going is good. Morocco, Egypt, Syria and other agriculturally rich countries have no such excuse.

  • M Risbrook

    but those laws are not Islamic laws but simply secular laws made up by Muslims for the same reason any country might restrict who can come and live there. In the days of the Ottoman empire, any Muslim could move there and obtain citizenship simply by demonstrating that he or she was Muslim, because the empire regarded itself as the protector of the faith, and the faithful

    I am already aware of this. However, I do not think that Muslims have any right to criticise the British immigration and nationality laws as being too tight (or downright racist) until they relax the nationality laws in their country of origin. For a start, it is much harder for a white British Muslim to obtain Pakistani citizenship than it is for a Pakistani Muslim to obtain British citizenship. Britain has a jus soli nationality law meaning that children born of Pakistani parents on British soil are British citizens. Pakistan has a jus sanguinus nationality law meaning that children born of British parents on Pakistani soil are not Pakistani citizens.

    I strongly believe in putting your own house in order before criticising others.

  • Tim

    I strongly believe in putting your own house in order before criticising others.

    Okay, well this is my house… so will gladly agree that the proposed changes are unfair and unjust.

    We should expect cross-border marriages to be common nowadays due to the ease wrought by air travel and the communication revolution.

    This has become patently clear in my own family - three brothers all married to foreign nationals (from 3 continents) - with various cousins completing the missing land masses.

    Glad I married a decade ago, because the proposed change would certainly have affected me. It was years before I earned a salary anywhere near £25,700.

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  • M Risbrook

    I don’t think these changes are tight enough. They are more of a sweetener to appease the Daily Mail types rather than an effective clamp down on immigration. I can’t see anything wrong with good old fashioned jus sanguinus. How about you are British only if both of your parents are British and you are descended from someone who lived in the UK before 1946.

  • SB

    So what about the situation where I am a 30yr old British citizen born and raised here, my parents are British citizens who have been here for over 40 years and we are descended from people who were working, fighting and dying in another country in the name of the ‘glorious’ British Empire before you or your grandparents were even born? You going to kick me out too?

  • M Risbrook

    Situations like that could be assessed on a case by case basis. Many countries with jus sanguinus nationality laws have certain clauses where citizenship is granted to foreigners in exceptional cases for acts of bravery or military service etc.

  •  Isn’t Egypt a horribly overpopulated country though?  That would be a good reason to block immigration.

    You mention the Ottomans, but their empire was underpopulated for most of its history.  That was probably one of the main reasons why there was no Ottoman colonial empire, and why the Ottomans were eventually defeated by the Western powers and Russia.

    At its height under Süleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was ten times larger than France in area, but had only a slightly larger population.  (And given that an appreciable fraction of its population would have been non-Muslim, it arguably had less manpower available for military use).  By the 19th century they were outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Austro-Hungarians, and 6 to 1 by the Russians.