Allow child refugees to sponsor family members, UK government urged
16 March 2018, 07:20
Ministers have been urged to allow child refugees to sponsor their close families members to join them in the UK.
The SNP's Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) wants to introduce legislation enabling people who arrived in Britain as a child to be able to support applications for their relatives to settle with them.
Speaking ahead of the second reading of his Refugees (Family Reunion) (No 2) Bill in the Commons on Friday, Mr MacNeil said it reflected current Home Office guidelines and that "similar" legislation existed across Europe.
He told the Press Association his Bill would give refugees "stability", and said: "It's giving them their families and when people are stable and have their families and are psychologically comfortable they flourish and they benefit us all."
Mr MacNeil spoke of the case of 19-year-old refugee Joannes, from Eritrea, who is now working as a welder in Kent and wants his sister to join him but she has been denied.
He said if his Bill succeeded, Joannes would not have to suffer "sleepless nights" in Kent worrying about his sister.
Mr MacNeil said there is cross-party support for the legislation but the Government was "hesitant" to back it.
"People see this as a Good Samaritan Bill: everybody is on side.
"It's not party political - any MP could have taken this from any party and it could have sat quite comfortably with their political philosophy," he explained.
The Bill also seeks to extend the age at which parents can sponsor their children to join them in the UK from 18 to 25, and reintroduces legal aid for refugees.
Mr MacNeil added: "I hope that it's going to make life for others the way life is for me and you."