|The News Line: Editorial
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Stop children and immigrants being used as ‘cash cows’
EVIDENCE is emerging about the extent to which the Tory policy of creating a ‘hostile climate’ for immigrant workers is being used by the Home Office as a profit-making scheme for the government.
Lawyers and charities working for the rights of these workers and their families are accusing government ministers of ‘shamelessly profiteering’ from the fees being levied on them to ‘prove’ theirs and their children’s legal right to citizenship, warning that British-born children are being subjected to the same injustices as the Windrush generation.
Young people born in Britain or who came as babies are being charged £1,102 just to apply for British citizenship. This is despite the actual cost in administration for processing an application being just £372 – a profit of £730 that goes straight into the coffers of the Home Office.
The charges don’t stop there. A ‘leave to remain’ application for an adult or child, which gives a two and a half years of UK residency status, costs £1,033 per person with an immigration health surcharge of £500 added on top of this. All these application fees are non-returnable, even if the application fails they are kept by the Home Office.
The sheer scale of Tory profiteering from the misery created by their racist policies is illustrated in the case of one woman originally from Trinidad, who has lived for 15 years in the UK and has three children all born in this country.
She recently paid the £1,102 fee for her eldest child’s citizenship application but is now faced with another £7,500 in fees to renew the rest of the family’s status – money she simply cannot afford.
Amnesty International has now organised a petition to urge the Tories to cut fees back to just the actual cost of administration saying that no child should be denied their right to British citizenship because of a ‘profit-making fee’ that is way above what even those in work can afford.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, said: ‘Many of these children don’t know they’re not British until they discover they can’t get a passport to go on a school trip or are told they must pay overseas fees and can’t have a student loan to go to university. ‘And then they are told they must pay over £1,000 to register as British even though they’ve lived here most or all their lives.’ He added: ‘It leaves children who cannot afford the fees vulnerable to the same injustices and marginalisation as the Windrush generation.’
According to Andrew Jordan, immigration manager at Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, this is not just a few cases but he was seeing a growing number of working families, who have lived and worked in the country for years legally, now finding they are unable to pay the thousands of pounds demanded by the Home Office in order to retain their right to be in Britain.
He said that the fees are so expensive that it has tipped even middle-class families ‘over the edge’, adding: ‘The Home Office is using migrants as an ATM, as a cash cow. It’s crazy, and it’s forcing more people into destitution and illegality – the dark underbelly. I’ve had at least two or three people who have been forced to literally prostitute themselves to pay for legal fees.’
This is precisely how the Tories view these children – as a source of profit that can be bled dry and the profit made from their suffering used to finance the entire rotten immigration system devised by May and the Tory government. This is the reality of capitalism today. A system that attacks workers and then demands that the workers and their children themselves pay for their own repression.
No amount of petitions can alter the nature of a bankrupt capitalist system that is desperate to screw profit from anywhere it can, including abject human misery. The only answer for the working class is to demand that the trade unions put an end to this Tory government through calling a general strike to kick it out, along with all its racist policies, and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
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