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We must stop families being torn apart

Many constituents have contacted me recently regarding family reunification rules for refugees and the related campaign by the British Red Cross.

I appreciate that concerns have been raised over the current family reunification criteria for refugees and those with humanitarian protection status in the UK, and I know that a number of organisations, including the British Red Cross, have called for there to be an expansion of the criteria.

It is clear, in my view, that much more is needed to be done to reunite families. I remain concerned that the Dublin III regulations, which allow for spouses or children under 18 with refugee or humanitarian protection status to be reunited with family members in the UK, are not working on the ground in places such as the Calais 'Jungle' camp, nor are they able to cope with the numbers of claims.

My colleagues in the Shadow Home Office team therefore made a number of attempts to address these issues around family reunification rules during the recent passage of the Government's Immigration Bill through Parliament. Indeed, an amendment was tabled to the Bill which would have required the Government to carry out a wide-ranging review to consider options for extending the criteria for family reunion, as well as the efficacy of the implementation of the Dublin III regulations.

It is extremely disappointing, however, that the Government rejected this proposal and stated in the House of Commons that they do not believe there needs to be a change in the rules on family reunion. The Immigration Bill has completed its passage through Parliament and is now an Act of Parliament, having received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.

The Government's response to the refugee crisis has been slow, reluctant and limited, and I have long believed that they could do more. I hope that they will reflect on the many points that have been raised on this matter by the various campaigns and organisations, and I can also assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely.


Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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