Author: MICHAEL SETTLE
The MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, will point out how the children’s citizenship registration fee – originally £35 in 1983 – has risen sharply in recent years, so that today it stands at £1,012 with £372 said to go on administrative costs and £640 “profit” for the Home Office.
He will further explain how Oxford University research estimates that there are around 120,000 undocumented migrant children in the UK, over half of whom were born in the UK.
This, Mr McDonald will argue, suggests many will have a right to register as British citizens and be impacted by the fees.
Amnesty International and The Children’s Society are among those campaigning for an end to the high charges.
“The UK Government must scrap the extortionate and ever-increasing fees it is charging children to access their legal right to register as British citizens,” declared the SNP MP.
“It is deeply immoral for the Home Office to be exploiting and profiteering from young people who have every right to be here as full and equal members of our society.
“Thousands of children, who are born and grow up in the UK, are now facing huge financial barriers to having their rightful citizenship recognised because of soaring fees introduced by Tory ministers, as part of their hostile approach to immigration.”
Mr McDonald said the prohibitive fees and legal costs now involved in the application process were putting citizenship out of reach for too many children, particularly those living in disadvantaged and low income families.
“This indefensible Tory policy amounts to a citizen tax and risks leaving young people in a precarious status without the vital protections that citizenship affords; such as freedom from immigration control and access to student finance, employment, housing, social security, healthcare, and other important services.”
He added: “The appalling treatment of these children is yet another example of the damaging impact hostile Tory immigration policies are having on our society and another reason why immigration powers must be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, so Scotland can create a system that meets our needs and values.”
The Home Office has said that above-cost immigration fees are maintained in order to raise funds for the wider immigration system.
A spokesman explained: “Legislation allows the Home Office to take into account the wider costs involved in running our border, immigration and citizenship system, so that those who directly benefit from it contribute to its funding; minimising the impact on the UK taxpayer.”