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Ben Macpherson last met Caroline Nokes, the former immigration minister, on 23 July. They had a constructive relationship and regularly discussed concerns about UK immigration proposals and Scotland’s specific needs. However, new UK ministers since that time have chosen not to resume those meetings to engage on migration solutions for Scotland. I, too, have argued for a differentiated approach at joint ministerial committee meetings. The Scottish Government has a clear vision for future immigration policy. Our 2018 paper shows how a tailored migration policy for Scotland could work, and we will publish a new paper early next year setting out further details.
Aala Hamza is a 23-year-old student living in my constituency and studying biomedicine at the University of Strathclyde. The Home Office is threatening to deport her back to Sudan, where her life would be in severe danger. Does the cabinet secretary agree that an independent Scotland would treat people who live and work here with dignity and respect and never put them under such intolerable stress?
I very much sympathise with the member and with her constituent. I am very conscious of the fact that, as a constituency MSP, I regularly meet individuals, EU citizens in particular, who are terrified by the attitude of the current UK Government towards migration and are fearful about the future. We welcome individuals from all over the world. Scotland is not full up but needs the contribution of others to our economy and society. We have a moral duty to play our part in helping people fleeing persecution, as the member has indicated. It is important that they are welcome and are made to feel welcome and supported in our country. With powers over immigration, we can set policies that are suited to our needs and based on fairness, dignity and respect in the best interests of Scotland and those who live here. It has never been more important for this Parliament to have those powers. I urge the member to speak to Mr Macpherson and follow up the case that she has raised with him. I am sure that he will do everything he can to help.