Faith communities have long been ardent advocates for migrants, promoting kindness and compassion in the face of darkness at times, hope in the face of shared suffering. We know that church communities are often on the frontline in supporting those navigating our UK immigration system. I imagine many of you within church communities will have heard first-hand the challenges of those in this system.
I imagine you sometimes meet people who have been waiting in this system for 10, 20 or even 30 years. Their lives are already in the UK, perhaps their children are British. And our current immigration system means that they must go through a complicated and stressful visa application process again, and again before they’re given the bare minimum level of security needed to feel at home here. They also have to pay thousands of pounds (£9,662 for a family of four) in visa fees every few years and Home Office delays mean people are often left waiting for months on end for vital documents needed to work, and keep living in their homes.
This creates huge financial pressures and as a result, many struggle to earn enough to live on, even though they are often working multiple jobs. They may struggle to afford rent for a safe place to live and often have to move frequently, causing stress, anxiety and disruption to children’s education. And throughout this time, they have no right to access the welfare safety net.
Many are ultimately forced into deep poverty or debt, leaving people vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. And as the cost of living rises, more and more people will end up in desperate situations.