Letter: Deliberate injustice against blacks and Asians

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The Independent Online
Sir: Chris Arnot's report 'It's love, but try telling the Home Office' (31 August) about Linda Sewell, a Birmingham woman of West Indian descent who married a man from Jamaica and had to return alone, allows a glimpse of a huge problem, not of red tape but of deliberate injustice. There are thousands of such cases every year.

Mrs Sewell's case confirms that the Home Office targets spouses on the basis of colour but denies it. The 'primary purpose' rule (that the acquisition of a British passport is not the primary purpose of the marriage) was craftily developed during the Eighties to exclude Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi spouses. Now African and Afro-Caribbean couples are increasingly subjected to this arbitrary rule.

The Home Office would have to let such couples enter Britain if they first settled in another EU country, or if the wife became pregnant. It is probably wiser to take extended leave for a long honeymoon in France or Spain than to spend money on cases that turn on official discretion.

Britain's young ethnic minority people must learn to plan their marriage arrangements well in advance. Rushing to an overseas High Commission with a marriage certificate, as the Sewells innocently did, just triggers the official response that individuals have no right to decide their immigration rights. The Home Office is not interested in love, or in the facts of a case; it has a disgraceful job to do, discouraging young black and Asian women (and men) in Britain from marrying overseas and hoping to bring their spouses here.

The law is at fault, but calls for its reform have been ignored, and the new immigration rules coming into force on 1 October will only make matters worse. Quo vadis, Fortress Britannica?

Yours sincerely,


Department of Law

School of Oriental

and African Studies

University of London

London, WC1