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A price on love

Income Limit Upheld in Supreme Court Despite Human Rights Outcry

The optimistic globalist policies of decades gone by have been replaced by more of an emphasis on the nation state and isolationism. Consequently, the west is gradually retreating into its own borders and is effectively bringing up the drawbridge. Brexit looks almost certain to go ahead with no block from the Lords, meaning the UK will no longer be granted access to the single market, and EU nationals will no longer have freedom of movement.

Amidst all the sound and fury, there has been a high court ruling that has upheld an economic limit on spousal entry into the UK. The UK citizen must earn over £18,600 in order to apply for a visa which can be denied, almost whimsically, depending on the judgement of those dealing with the case.

In the news over the last few days, there has been a case of a lady from Singapore called Irene Clennell. She had lived in the UK for 27 years and even has grandchildren there. Last week, she was ushered on to a plane after a month of detention at an immigration centre. She had no chance to say goodbye to her family.

Her sister-in-law, Angela Clennell, told the Guardian that Amber Rudd, the home secretary, needed to look at how the immigration system was treating families. "She needs to have some compassion," she said. "What if it was one of her children or one of her relatives? How would she feel?

"Irene's been deported from the country with the clothes on her back, £12 in her pocket and nothing more and just left. It's absolutely atrocious, it's horrendous, and it's unbearable to think about."

Irene's "crime", like many others was either to marry a British national who was 'poor' (less than £62,500 in savings is the arbitrary figure set by the government) or who was unable to get a job that pays that over 41% of the British population are unable to earn (£18,600 per annum.)

Nothing else is considered. The education and skill set of the British national is irrelevant. This means whatever happens, while the British national searches for a job over the amount deemed to be satisfactory, the spouse must wait for their beloved in their country of citizenship.

Worse still, any income made by the foreign spouse is not factored in to the equation. As a result, couples who live in, say, Australia who earn a very comfortable income through the Australian husband's engineering job are effectively outlawed from the UK because the wife is a homemaker. If she is homesick and wants to return to the UK, the family had better get busy and save £62,250. No small feat, and one that could take years.

As a result of these policies implemented under then Home Secretary, and now Prime Minister May, over 15,000 families are separated because they are too poor for love.

Just to be clear, this affects British citizens. Not those entering from the EU. Not foreigners vilified by portions of the press for wanting a free ride.

In the scramble to lower immigration figures, the government is imposing measures that restrict a right to a family life.

Another lady named Soma Dina is studying a Master's degree at the University of Derby. Although her husband makes good money and has a good education, he is unable to join her in the UK where she has the support of her parents to raise her children. Incidentally, having children raises the "cost" of the threshold by over £3000 per child, so couples hoping to move the UK had better stop their family planning.

Because Soma is a student, she does not earn enough to allow the children's father into the country.  Her story is sadly one of thousands.

"He has missed several milestones in mine and our kids' lives. It brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it. My kids are two and four and miss their dad so so much.

"My kids are growing so fast and it hurts that their father is not present physically to witness all the feats they achieve.

"My marriage has suffered so much strain and I fear that I may lose the very thing that means so much to me. It is so heartbreaking for me and my children.

"I am pleading with the government to have mercy on myself and others in my situation and kindly hear our cry. Each time my kids see an airplane, they ask if daddy is coming to visit. What do I answer each time they ask? It's extremely heartbreaking."

She added: "We are not migrants or foreigners. We are like every other British citizen who happened to fall in love with a non British citizen. You just can't help who you fall in love with."

Theresa May recently announced that Brexit would mean a truly global Britain. A Britain where talent and skills would be looked for outside of the EU. Yet this ruling means that some of the very British citizens who voted her in to power or in the EU referendum that are low skilled or poor had best look within their own borders for love.

Elle Osili-Wood met her husband, an Australian national, at a pub quiz through mutual friends.

They fell in love in married in October 2015. She is a freelance broadcaster and journalist, meaning she did not meant the requirement to have a £18,600 income for her husband to join her in the UK.

The couple has recently lived in Australia for a period, and are still trying to get approval to move back to the UK.

She told The Independent: "When we actually read the [visa] rules, we were astounded at just how arbitrary many of them are. We had to sell our home and move to Australia for six months (we've just arrived home) to meet the £62,500 savings requirement.

"Even with all the stress and worry, the worst part has actually been feeling unwelcome in my own country. I work, I pay taxes, I'm law abiding - I never thought I'd be fighting my government for the right to live with the person I love.

"In addition, Teresa May is clearly targeting couples like us because we're an easy way to meet her ill advised immigration targets."

Michael Richard Baines, 31, from Hackney in London, met his wife through family members and they married in 2013.

She is a Ghanian citizen and because Michael works as a care worker, he does not meet the £18,600 salary threshold for her to be allowed to join him in the UK.

He told The Independent: "The decision, made by the Supreme Court today, is a complete tragedy for people - couples, married or not, who are finding themselves in this situation where they cannot be together simply because they could not stop themselves for falling for someone who is non British or non European."

A Home Office spokesman said: "All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave."

It seems, rather unfortunately, that not having legal rights is even the case for 52 year old grandmothers who have spent the majority of their lives living in Britain but who are now surplus to requirement, or at the very least, harmful to statistical figures. One cannot help who one falls in love with, but the government can put a price on it.

 


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