The Home Office has yet again proposed a tweaking of the system which allows foreigners to become subjects of Her Majesty Elizabeth II:
“Immigrants who want to become British and settle permanently in the UK will need to pass more tests to “prove their worth” to the country under new plans. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said migrants would need to demonstrate their contribution to society beyond simply working and paying taxes.
Some migrants may also have to pay into a fund towards public services and have a period of “probationary citizenship”. The Tories called the plans, which do not cover EU citizens, a “gimmick”. Unveiling the proposals, Ms Smith said reforming how people become citizens was the unfinished business of the UK’s migration system.
She said that future migrants would need to “earn” citizenship. This scraps the current system which allows people to apply for naturalisation on the basis of how long they have lived in the UK.”
The idea of ‘probationary citizenship’ sounds to me quite promising, however the rest of the proposals seem to be ill-thought out:
“The package of measures includes:
-Raising visa fees for a special “transitional impact” fund
-More English language testing ahead of nationality
-Requirements to prove integration into communities
-Increasing how long it takes to become British
Ministers say the impacts fund and its fees are yet to be worked out but would be designed to ease pressures caused by the movement of people. Press reports suggest it would raise Â£15m a year.”
If the purpose of the tests is to help prospective citizens integrate better, then it is unclear why they need to pay extra money, which will have very little effect anyway. The financial centrepiece is nothing but a headline for the tabloids. There does need to be a better allocation of resources in areas with high numbers of migrants, but this can be done simply and without the need for gimmicks.
“The system could see migrants with children or elderly relatives expected to pay higher application fees. Migrants would find their route to citizenship and full access to benefits, such as higher education, accelerated if they can prove they are “active” citizens. This would include proof of charity work, involvement in the local community and letters from referees.”
Again, this sounds relatively nice in theory, but how will it work in practice? What if you are a small businessman, who works long hours and pays plenty in taxes? You will not have time for all this extra ‘active’ life, but why should you be denied citizenship on the basis of that? Will higher fees for children or the elderly encourage the would-be citizens to leave them in another country- do we really want to create this sort of society where the weakest immigrants are jettisoned as a financial burden?
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: British Identity,Current affairs