South Asians protest ‘unjust’ treatment of migrants

‘Govt. misusing laws to reject our right to remain in U.K.’

February 21, 2018 10:19 pm | Updated February 22, 2018 07:01 pm IST - London

A group of South Asians in the U.K. are considering a hunger strike alongside legal action, as they continue to build a campaign against what they believe is an unjust treatment meted out to those attempting to gain an indefinite leave to remain in the country. The campaign focusses on the increasing number of migrants from the subcontinent who have come on a ‘Tier 1 Highly Skilled Visa’ and have had their applicants to remain rejected or delayed because of amendments made to their tax filings.

Campaigners say that with increasing regularity, a clause within Britain’s immigration legislation — which focusses on a person’s character and is intended to prevent the settlement of criminals — is being used to reject applicants.

“We have a very strong case… the current treatment of people is inhuman,” said Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the leaders of the campaign, who joined hundreds of protesters outside Parliament on Wednesday.

“Who are we?” “Highly Skilled!” “What do we want?” “Justice” — chanted the protesters who came from across the U.K., from different South Asian communities, representing IT sector workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers and others.

‘Negative portrayal’

Nargis Awan, a solicitor who has been representing clients in such cases, said that the government was “totally misusing” rules originally designed to prevent those considered undesirable from settling in the country. She said that the government was attempting to negatively portray workers who had simply made tax errors in their filings.

One New Delhi-born property investor based in Nottingham explained how, despite him having lived and worked in the U.K. since 2006, his life had been turned upside down after his application to remain was rejected, leaving him and his wife unable to work. He added that he was forced to sell his assets, and is currently struggling to support their two small children.

The campaign group, which has garnered over 22,000 signatures in an online campaign to persuade the government to “stop creating a hostile environment for immigrants”, is due to hold a meeting in Parliament on March 6 to draw attention of the MPs. It is also set to meet with other migrant support groups.

The group hopes, via the growing legal support it has been able to garner, to be able to put forward a “test” case for judicial review, which it hopes would be able to set a precedent to stop the misuse of the rules. “We are going to see this through…we are not going to give up,” said Ms. Bhardwaj.

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