Friday, September 23, 2016

Growing Up in a Hostile Environment: Screwed up Priorities of some Governments

Welfare Vs Hostile States.

Here's the situation : Immigration status is not easy in some countries. I plod through the process even after 6 months of having being in a country, with a reputable organisation. I have stayed away from my family because I did not want my kids academic year to be wrecked, so their immigration applications could be done parallely in good time. Education has always been my top priority...

Well, so last 2 month of her academic break should have been enough for her transit to the new country, or so I calculated. She has a place in school. I was pretty sure i had every thing covered when she passed her test and secured an admission. In another few weeks she should get her permit too. But there was a surprise on day-1 of new term. The school refused to let her take classes,  because her immigration status is not right.  And no, they cannot allow any grace time even if I can prove that the permit has been applied for. They used to in previous years, like my predecessor had suggested, but not anymore. The state has it's priorities. They raid the schools regularly to catch children of incorrect immigration statuses benefitting from a highly costly private education, paid for by legal immigrant parents. Government cannot allow such transgressions! The fines on schools are prohibitive.... Compliance before education!         

There is more in terms of benign rules.... One cannot bring dependents without 6 months of salary proof in the country. You got that right...!!!  you have to be a forced bachelor for at least 6 months by law. Also, Your demonstrable financial capability isn't enough for the authorities, like it does in other logical countries. Your local salary account statement is the only record of interest.... The statement should show 6 months of salary being credited in your local salary account. Why, you ask?

Because you are assumed to be a blue collared expat worker who constitute the majority of the population in the country. (Corrollary assumption: Your salary is assumed to be your only subsistence. You are assumed to have no other money anywhere in the world. You are assumed to be in complete mercy and control of your employer etc). All laws are devised on that assumption. And no, you cannot bring child without (one of) your spouse/(s) in tow. (to be Fair, that's also in other countries, I guess).  For me it creates a problem, because all your passports should be valid for next 6-months. And the 6-month transit has already brought one of ours' close to expiry! We are staring at a short term settlement which is as uncertain as my bank account balance nowdays! 😂 You cannot change jobs without employer NOC. You cannot leave the country without employer approval(exit permit). The list is long.... the hostility is deep.....

Anyway, The situation of my child got me thinking a bit. Here's the thing. What kind of country makes young children suffer through no fault of their own? Aren't many having their lives marred, including those who have only ever known this country as their home?

There's much to trouble about, but I shall focus on the conditions of my child's case study presented above and restrict myself to the right of children and the treatment to it worldwide.

Most respectable humane countries of the world are signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child where the rights of children are respected, regardless of their immigration status. However,  there remain the rogue countries of slave-owning cultures where immigration policies have a damaging impact on vulnerable groups including and especially children.

Let's have a look at the policy of education of some countries where children of doubtful immigration status is concerned.

In United States, All children are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their or their parents' actual or perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status.

In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says Schools cannot refuse to admit children. It is against the law for a school to refuse to admit a child who is under 18 years of age only because the child or the child’s parent or guardian is in Canada without immigration status.

In the United Kingdom, When you deal with an application for a child who is not a UK national, You must not refuse a school place simply because of doubts about the child’s immigration status.

The European Union member states have all ratified The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 makes primary and secondary education available to all children in a country. Children first and foremost: the “best interests of the child”, says the convention.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the “best interests” principle applies to all children without discrimination, including foreign children who are illegally residents: “all the rights laid down by the Convention on the Rights of the Child must be applied to all the children present in the State, including […] those who are there illegally”!  Obviously, this works for students awaiting permanent immigration status.

However, There are these countries which have draconian laws as a way of buying more immigrants to contribute their manual labour but dissuading their families from coming. Most immigrants of the labour class are forced into the hands of rogue landlords and exploitative relationships. This is the kind of immigration that is desired and coveted. And high turnover ensures that limbs are young and comfort is low. Hence laws that encourage people to leave early are in order. The clever HR policy of wanting an immigrant's body's toil, not him as a human being. More unproductive mouths to feed (or dependants) are the last thing an expat is expected to bring to an economic workplace (the country).

How a country, treats children is a good measure of the values of a society. Aspirations of these countries are sky high - hosting marquee world events and tall towers and Formula races. Are these aspirational countries not failing to live up to the high standards that they rightly would set for others like the European Union, which has accepted millions of refugees from their troubled neighbourhood? (By the way, how many accepted by the n'hood itself?)

It is extremely concerning that rather than trying to improve the ways in which to support children, the governments instead make their countries a more hostile place for them to grow up in.

Disclaimer : The purpose of this article is not to criticise any country or law, neither do I have the competence to comment on legal matters, but to take a decision about whether the environment actually suits the self. Let me know your views.