migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial ‘Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal’

Editorial ‘Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal’

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Editorial ‘Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal’

No, Minister, this scandal won’t go away. On 4 September Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes sat through a parliamentary debate on the ruined lives of tens of thousands of international students whose visas were cancelled four years ago because of allegations of cheating in a pre-university English-language test.

After 4 years of the students fighting for justice – in the last year together with MV - finally we had a parliamentary debate. That is why it is even more disheartening for us to hear the Immigration Minister indifferently refuse the evidence put before her.

And the evidence was incontestable. 

10 MPs presented the reality that shows the injustice and damage done on every level, and which there is an opportunity and an urgent need to put right: They showed the legal injustice, the human rights travesty, the impact on the economy, on the reputation of the UK universities, and indeed the reputation of the UK itself. All this apart from the impact on the lives and futures of tens of thousands of students - among them their constituents - and whose devastating stories the MPs shared.

But the Minister reacted by insisting on defending and sticking to the government’s earlier decision of collective punishment – a situation which is “Britian’s forgotten immigration scandal” in the words of MP Wes Streeting.

The result of this collective punishment has been catastrophic. Deemed guilty and punished by government decree, students have been put in the Alice in Wonderland situation of having to prove their innocence without access to evidence (the US testing company responsible for the language tests has long been sent packing; the Home Office’s “hostile environment” has blocked attempts to sort out reasonable solutions). Some have returned home, unwilling to live illegally in Britain subjected to harassment. Others have been deported, others detained. Thousands have remained, their lives in limbo until they clear their names, unable to work or rent accommodation, watching their lives waste away. As poverty, frustration, anger and stress take their toll, their health has deteriorated. There has been a terrible impact on families and children.

“This numerically is a bigger scandal than Windrush in terms of people removed and lives destroyed,” another MP, Mike Gapes, told Parliament. “The injustice is grave, the numbers are huge.”

Other members weighed in, attacking the Government’s “outrageous behaviour”, citing the damage to the reputation of British universities and to Britain’s reputation for fairness, even the cost to the country of the Home Office’s obduracy in refusing patently sound claims and forcing students to recourse to legal appeals.

After listening to this mountain of evidence and testimony, Nokes stolidly repeated the Government position – that fraud had occurred and that the Government’s response had been “measured and proportionate” and that it was committed to a fair immigration system.

No, Minister. It’s not proportionate and it’s not fair. The treatment of thousands of people has been egregiously unjust. It’s a scandal, a blot on the Government, the Home Office and the country. Injustice on this scale is not going to disappear. The Government is compounding its shame by refusing to end its hostile attitude to the students and by refusing to agree to the simple, straightforward solution we and the MPs are calling for: Let the students take another language test and allow those who pass to resume their studies.

Our campaign continues.

Read Migrant Voice's report: I want my future back, the international students treated as guilty until proven innocent.

Watch the parliamentary debate: https://goo.gl/V6cgJd