English test will penalise poor migrants

Submitted by Matthew on 18 November, 2010 - 1:03 Author: Rebecca Galbraith

From 29 November spouses or partners, from outside the European Economic Area, applying to come to Britain will have to pass an English language test before they come to the UK. This measure was designed by Labour but is being implemented a year early by the coalition government as a sign that it is prepared to be even tougher than its predecessor.

Theresa May says: “I believe being able to speak English should be a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services. It is a privilege to come to the UK and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants… this is only the first step.”

All rubbish. A common sense approach would acknowledge how much easier it is to learn English once in the UK. But this measure has nothing to do with common sense and everything to do with discriminating against poor people and people from poor countries.

Emily, a woman affected by the new law says, “My husband and I speak Arabic together. He is learning English and we both think this is very important. However, this law is not about enabling new immigrants to learn English.

“This new rule discriminates against spouses from parts of the world where English tuition is poor or non-existent, not to mention those who cannot afford to pay for English classes. What’s more, it doesn’t apply to spouses from within the EU who don’t speak English. The rule shows a complete disregard for the right of married couples and families to be together, and effectively punishes people like myself for marrying outside the EU.”

As the cuts bite and we gear up to fight, there is a danger that the government pushes laws like this through with no one noticing. Let’s show them that we have noticed.

If the government want to ensure migrants can learn English, then we have some different ideas for them – stop the cuts to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, scrap the fees introduced in 2007, and fund basic literacy and outreach classes.

This is a racist attack from an anti-migrant government – stand up and say no to it!

Please join the protest on Monday 29 November to show your opposition to these measures.

• Demonstrate 29 November 1pm to 2pm near the Home Office. Meet at 12.45pm outside Topshop on Victoria Street, London SW1
• Prop making Sunday 21 November, 4pm to 6pm. London Action Resource Centre, Fieldgate Street, London E1
• Call Alice on 07976274516 or Rebecca on 0797171 9797
• Called by No One Is Illegal www.noii.org.uk

Comments

Submitted by lynn f on Wed, 01/12/2010 - 12:30

lynn ferguson
The cuts in ESOL funding and the introduction of fees have already had a severe impact on migrant workers.
I'm involved in running ESOL projects within the GMB. We have to negotiate with hard pressed providers in FE to try and get the best deal for our members. The fees are premised on the Labour Govts view that employers should pay the fees. A joke - they feel they have contributed enough if workers get time off in work time to learn.
Otherwise we depend on ESF funding which is sporadically available , and differs from county to county.
In GMB we have done the best that we can, but we are more than aware that the learning opportunities we can access for migrant workers are well below those we can access for indigenous workers with Literacy needs.

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