MPs back flagship immigration legislation amid child refugee concerns

MEPs passed a flagship immigration law to end EU rules on free movement in the UK.

The Immigration and Social Security Coordination Act (EU withdrawal) is part of the step towards the government's new point-based immigration system, which is due to be introduced in 2021.

It was adopted in third reading with 342 against 248 votes and a majority of 94 votes, which clarified all phases in the lower house.

However, MEPs' concerns about unaccompanied child refugees and the indefinite detention of people detained in immigration centers have highlighted possible parliamentary struggles for the government when peers review the bill in the House of Lords.

Interior Minister Priti Patel MP said in a statement: “Last year, the British sent a clear message that they wanted to end free movement, and our pioneering immigration law does just that.

"The Labor vote against this bill shows that while their leadership has changed, their determination to deny the will of the people has not."

Yvette Cooper of Labor, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, previously warned the government not to turn its back on child refugees.

She urged to vote for her amendment to continue the existing rules for the reunification of unaccompanied child refugees with close relatives in the UK.

Labor MP Yvette Cooper expressed concern (Stefan Rousseau / PA)
Labor MP Yvette Cooper expressed concern (Stefan Rousseau / PA)

It was defeated by 255 votes to 332, with a majority of 77, but was supported by some conservative MPs, including former child minister Tim Loughton.

He told the debate that there must be a "clear intention" by the government to introduce a system to protect unaccompanied child refugees after Brexit.

During the reporting phase of the bill, Mr. Loughton said: "Frankly, in recent years we have cut corners as to why it would not be appropriate to face this with legislation." Today we need a very, very clear government statement and intention that a system will enter into force on January 1st.

"I know that it depends on the negotiations, but if everything else fails, we can also introduce our own system that is at least as good as (the Dublin Regulation), and this is exactly what this amendment is trying to achieve."

Former Child Minister Tim Loughton (Gareth Fuller / PA)
Former child minister Tim Loughton (Gareth Fuller / PA)

Mr. Loughton added: “We have a great record. Why in the world don't we want to make sure that we continue this great record for some of the most vulnerable children who are fleeing the danger that we could afford to go safely and legally? join relatives in the UK?

"This is what this amendment is about. We really have to do it better because I cannot understand it, my constituents will not understand it if we do not work so hard that we continue to do the best in this country for those who really need protection Kids want to do. "

Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis also offered his support, noting that "as an ex-Brexit secretary, I see absolutely no reason to wait for negotiations" to take action on the proposed changes.

Ms. Cooper said: "Desperate young people have already lost their lives, we shouldn't turn our backs on them now, we have to keep these safe and legal ways."

For the government, Home Secretary Kevin Foster said the government was "committed to the principle of family reunification and helping vulnerable children."

He told Commons, "We recognize that families can be separated because of the nature of the conflict and persecution, and the speed and manner in which people are often forced to flee their country.

"However, the proposed new clause 29 does not recognize the current pathways for family reunification or the negotiations we are having with the EU on new mutual arrangements for family reunification of unaccompanied asylum-seekers in the UK or the EU, as set out in the draft legal text. "

Labor MP Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) also said the bill is a slap in the face for overseas front workers who "risked their lives" during the pandemic.

She said to MPs, “This punitive, discriminatory law is a slap in the face to caregivers, cleaners, drivers and salespeople who have risked their lives to keep this country running during the pandemic.

“The members here applauded every week. The extent of government hypocrisy is breathtaking. Gossip for carers one day and downgrade their status in law the next. "





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