Family reunification for Refugees

Thank you to those who recently contacted me about family reunification for refugees.

I appreciate that concerns have been raised about the existing refugee family reunion rules and the effectiveness of their implementation. I also know that a number of organisations have called for an expansion of the criteria.

I agree that more needs to be done to reunite families and I share concerns about the efficiency of the processes in place for those who are entitled to join family in the UK, particularly children. As we know, unaccompanied migrant children are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. 

It is disappointing that previous attempts to review the rules around family reunion for refugees, including options for expanding the criteria, were blocked by the Government. Indeed, the Government has consistently said that it has no plans to expand the family reunion criteria. 

If a child refugee has been granted the right to be here, I support that right also being granted to their parents or carers. I also believe that children who grew up in this country with a parent who has a right to be here should be allowed this right even after they turn 18. This would allow child refugees to be reunited with their families and end the terrible practice of deporting children who grew up in the UK to countries which they often know nothing about.

I therefore supported the Private Members' Bill that was debated in the House of Commons on 16 March with proposals on these issues. I want to allow refugees to live fulfilling lives in the UK, and to avoid the perverse situation where children are brought up in our care system instead of being reunited in the UK with close family who currently live in danger abroad.

Our country has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees and I believe reforming the refugee family reunion rules would be a simple but important step towards addressing anomalies in our refugee system.

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