I have written to the Home Secretary and the Scottish Government minister responsible for migration seeking urgent intervention to prevent six of my constituents—the Sbita family—from being deported imminently from Dumfries to Tunisia. The family—four of whom are under 16—are being deported simply on the basis that they cannot afford to pay the almost £7,000 fee for the Home Office to process their application. The family are now reporting to the police every week until their deportation, and are unable to work, study or make money for themselves.
In the absence of any fast action from the local Tory MP, what advice can the First Minister offer me to support my constituents? Is there any action that the Scottish Government can take to help my constituents to remain in Scotland?
I am hugely sympathetic to all those people—we are talking about many people—who have difficulties navigating the complex and increasingly restrictive immigration rules. The Scottish Government welcomes and hugely values people from all over the world who choose to build their lives here. Scotland is stronger because of our multiculturalism. Non-United Kingdom citizens are an important part not just of our present, but of our future.
The UK Government’s immigration system is not fit for purpose. We want to see a less restrictive, more humane system that meets our needs and provides a welcoming environment for new Scots and their families. The Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development will make representations to the Home Office and respond to Ms Harper as soon as possible.