*This is a guest post
Like most little girls, I loved to imagine getting married, having a baby, living in a lovely house and living the life dreams were made of. Never could I have imagined how different the reality would be.
After years of meeting and falling for the wrong guys, I met Carlos in 2015 when I traveled to Ecuador. I met him through his cousin who owned a health retreat where I was staying and, after a whirlwind romance, before we knew it we were married and about to become parents. Faced with a country with very little focus on natural birthing, I decided to come home for the birth I wanted and be near my parents. I also wanted our baby to be born in England where he could have access to all the benefits I had growing up – and where healthcare and education was a given, not something you had to pay privately for.
With plans to return to Ecuador after the birth, when Thomas was born reality dawned and I didn’t want to leave – I felt safe here and having the support of my family and friends became even more important. Being 1000’s of miles away suddenly felt very daunting.
After getting legal advice, we applied for the Right to Remain visa. We were quietly confident that things would be ok – I mean, after all, who could deny a family the right to be together? However, after 3 months of waiting anxiously with a new-born – unable to settle or make plans – Carlos was refused the Right to Remain here in the UK with us. The rug was pulled out from under us as we tried to deal with the shock and weigh up our options – none of them particularly good.
Due to the minimum income requirements introduced by Theresa May in 2012, we would have to be separated for a minimum of a year whilst we tried to meet the very restrictive rules or we would have to appeal, which could take up to a year just to get a court date. Whilst neither filled us with much positivity, the former meant Thomas would lose his daddy with no guarantee of when, or if, he would be allowed to return.
The latter meant we could at least fight the decision that we believed was so inhumane. It was senseless that we were not simply allowed to be together as a family – despite being married to a British woman and having a British child, Carlos did not have any natural rights at all to be with us. Instead, we were made to feel like criminals – the only crime committed was falling in love with a foreigner. From that moment on our lives were no longer our own – likes puppets on a string being controlled by something bigger than we could imagine. It all felt so strange, so powerless.
After a year of waiting, we were finally given a court date and as I write this now, we have 2 months left before we go before the court and my baby son faces the possibility of his daddy being taken away. It is hard pill to swallow that our family could be split up by my own government. Our entire lives have been suspended in uncertainty because someone who doesn’t even know us has the ability to split our family apart for no other reason than to bring down migration figures. I cannot bear the thought of how this could impact on Thomas who depends on his daddy in so many ways – not least as he is his main carer whilst I work full time to support our family.
The ripple effects of this decision are innumerable. For the last 18 months we have lived hand to mouth because we only had one income – living in a caravan at one point because we could not afford a flat; every day living in constant stress and worry not knowing where we would end up; living daily with the knowledge that one day my husband may have to leave and we would have no idea when or if he would be able to come back; financial debt rising because my wage does not cover basic living costs; unable to make any plans or settle our lives in any way; my husband not able to work, study or even volunteer; frustration and resentment building up in our relationship because we are not allowed to live a normal family life; unable to afford family trips away or buy toys or new clothes for Thomas…the list goes on.
On a personal level, for me, the strain has been acute. A TV Producer/Director who was full of adventure and loved to travel and try new things – not afraid of going out of my comfort zone – I became a shadow of myself. I lost confidence, focus and weight – battling depression brought on by the strain of our situation sometimes feeling so low I would want to drive the car into a wall when I was by myself. The only thing keeping me going was my little baby and my love for him and my husband.
Once a high earner with a strong sense of self and high ambitions, this whole process brought me to my knees mentally, emotionally and financially. With debt spiraling out of control, it has been incredibly stressful just trying to keep my family afloat because my university educated, fluent English-speaking husband who studied in the UK as a child has not even been given the chance to provide for his family.
We are the lucky ones – we are together….at least for now. 1000’s of innocent, genuine, loving families have already been torn apart by unfair family immigration rules – it is heart-breaking. The family unit and our rights within that unit should be sacrosanct, however this has been outrageously abused by the government as they use families to help hit immigration targets.
How can a government be allowed to tear a family apart in this way? Can you imagine how you would react if someone came into your family and said your wife or husband would have to leave and may not be allowed to come back? That, against your will, your children would lose one of their parents? It is hard to put into words the impact of these rules on families such as mine and the impact as individuals.
Our basic human rights and freedom of choice have been cruelly taken away from us. What is more worrying is that Theresa May, who could become our officially elected PM, is the person responsible for these new immigration rules. Do we want this woman who has so little regard for families to be the one who controls our country?
This is an immigration system that is targeting the wrong people and it is the most vulnerable amongst us that are bearing the real cost. These barbaric immigration rules are tearing babies and children away from a parent causing not only distress to the parents but also tragic and unnecessary mental health and anxiety disorders in the children who, as a result of this split, are suffering mentally, emotionally and physically because they cannot understand why mummy or daddy has gone away and left them.
These rules are creating ‘Skype families’ that are forming tenuous relationships between absent parent and child robbing them of the love and cuddles they need to give them security, emotional safety and well-being.
It is incomprehensible that it is allowed to happen in our ‘forward thinking’ country but it appears that our PM, our government, consider the sanctity of family as expendable. It is shockingly cruel, morally reprehensible and cannot continue.
I am raising awareness of these unjust and inhumane rules as well as for our case. I am also talking to experts and affected families to help educate the public on the impact of these rules on real families – adults and children. This is a personal mission about a very important social issue.
Should you wish to support our cause please help us stop the government from splitting our family up here.
If you would like to understand more about family migration and the impact of the rules on families please go to:
Author bio: Caroline lives in Bristol with her husband, Carlos and their 17-month-old son, Thomas. In her spare time, she a passionate campaigner against inhumane immigration rules and the impact on children. Believing humanity can live in harmony together embracing our differences not fighting them, Caroline wants to use her broadcasting skills to be part of a positive change.
***Please help to spread word about Caroline’s terrible situation by sharing this post in any way you can***