As ‘skilled migrant crisis’ boils over, British MPs try to assess scale of problem

Vidya Ram London | Updated on May 27, 2018

A British MP has asked individuals caught up in the growing controversy over the use of an anti-terror law to prevent them from settling in the UK to contact their local parliamentarian as law-makers attempt to get a sense of the scale of the problem.

With increasing regularity, highly skilled workers — many from India who came to Britain many years ago — have been denied the right to settle in Britain and even threatened with deportation because of rectifications they have made to their tax filings, accepted by Britain’s tax and revenue authorities.

“We are trying to work out the scale of the issue,” said Steve Reed, Labour MP for the ethnically diverse Croydon North, in an interview with BusinessLine.

He had several constituents approach him, while his colleagues in Parliament have also been approached. He believes that hundreds of individuals may be impacted. A group of nearly 20 MPs has already come together to assess the scale of the problem, though it is expected to grow.

They are expected to raise the issue in Parliament in coming weeks, and assess what action could be taken to halt the policy, which they believe is highly discriminatory and an example of how people from non-EU countries have been caught up in the government’s efforts to cut immigration.

The issue has already been raised several times in Parliament, most notably in hearings as part of an inquiry being held by Britain’s Home Affairs Committee.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes told the committee she would look into the issue while Home Minister Sajid Javid has insisted the refusals are not part of a deliberate strategy by the Home Office to refuse people to meet internal targets on migration and settlement figures.

“Their response has been pathetic… very very defensive,” said Reed. “They seem to be blaming the culture in the Home Office, but the responsibility for that lies with the ministers who created the hostile environment, and charged the Home Office with delivering on it.”

The South London MP said: “The ministers need to reverse the policy and recognise how this abuse is taking place. They are threatening people with deportation under anti-terror rules when all that the people have done is make minor discrepancies in their tax returns. In many cases those are identified by the individuals themselves and reported to HMRC and the Tax office has treated the matter as closed. The Home Office is using any excuse, however trivial.”

“There is a huge discrepancy between what the government is saying about building a global Britain and its pandering to political extremism. I think they are going to find it very hard to convince countries to do trade deals if they are trying to kick people on the flimsiest of excuses,” he said.

Published on May 27, 2018

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