ADAM FENELEY

cred. Alison Tanik
cred. Alison Tanik

The two girls in this photo are India and Lulu, British girls aged three and five years old. They have only seen their father a handful of times since 2012. Their parents are not divorced, but forcefully separated. India and Lulu are not the only children who are made to deal with this; there are thousands of other families in the UK facing the same situation right now, and many of them have children. So what do they have in common? Why will there be so many children this year forced to spend Christmas without a parent?

The answer is simple; one of their parents is foreign. In 2012 immigration laws changed, and the result was that marriage and children with a British citizen are no longer considered grounds to allow a couple to live together in the UK – even when those children are British. This new law forces the parents of India and Lulu apart on the basis that one parent is British and the other was born outside the EU. However, if their mother was not British, but from another EU country, then they could all live in the UK with no problem at all. This rule only applies to British people with a non-EU spouse.

But the girls are used to life without their father, they learned to walk without him, India started nursery without him, went to school without him and learnt to ride a bike without him - the list goes on. So this Christmas is just another special day to add to the list of memories they won’t get to share with their father.

There would be a way around this though, if their parents were wealthy. If their mother had around £62,000 in untouched cash savings, their father could come to the UK. There is also an income requirement, but this lies considerably above the minimum wage. The result is that thousands of the most vulnerable British families are being pulled apart, or forced to live in exile from their own country in order to stay together.

This legislation was put in place by Theresa May of the Conservative Party as part of a promise to lower immigration – which the government has duly failed to do. In order to appease xenophobic parties and their supporters, the Home Office promised to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands by 2015; the figure today has risen to over 260,000.

Because the government cannot target EU migrants, they have made life unfathomably difficult for anyone else, and the harshest measures fall on families like Lulu and India’s. Ironically, the United Kingdom Independence Party, Britain’s foremost EU-sceptic and anti-immigration party, state in their manifesto that they will remove these rules to make it easier for families to be together in Britain.

Campaigns to give British families the same rights in Britain as people from other nations are now gaining momentum. The parents of India and Lulu have done excellent work so far in campaigning to get legislation changed and you can help too. Search “Let us see daddy” on Google, Facebook or YouTube to find them, and sign their petition to get the rules changed. So far, over 30 MPs support them in their call to abolish the 2012 ruling – there is support for the cause, but it is worth noting that not one of them is from the Conservative Party.