Tag: Immigration

DACA – The programme at the heart of the US government shutdown

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Protesters at the White House (Photo courtesy of http://www.pbs.org)

We woke up to the news on Saturday of the US government shutdown due to Congress and the White House not being able to reach an agreement on a replacement for the Obama administration’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) programme, which has been rescinded by the Trump administration.

Listening to the major news sources, you will come off with the impression that the DACA program simply allowed illegal immigrants to settle in the US with their families in their thousands every year. However, when you scratch beneath the surface, you will find out the The DACA programme actually operated with very strict criteria to protect children of illegal immigrants from deportation to countries they have no practical connection to. The current argument is not whether the programme should continue, as it will not continue, but whether to continue to honour the benefits of the programme to the already eligible population.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permitWikipedia.

The DACA programme was initiated by the Obama administration in 2012 to find a way of integrating children who were historically brought to the US illegally by their parents and give them a chance at the American dream. America has always been a country who welcomed people from all countries to settle if they are hardworking and law-abiding, even president Trump’s ancestors were immigrants from Germany and his mother was from Scotland who emigrated to the US in the ’30s, and look where he is now!

Today, President Trump believes the programme denies hard-working native Americans a fair chance in the workplace as the immigrants would take up local jobs, housing and other state benefits. He has declared the programme is not going to continue, but gave the congress six months from September 2017 to find a way of dealing with the eligible population in the original programme.

The opponents of DACA argue that it merely gives amnesty to illegal immigrants who would then invite their families in a process known as chain-migration. They believe it encourages illegal immigration. So granting an illegal immigrant a work permit (and eventually permanent residency) will lead to them bringing their extended families to the country. Advocates on the other hand believe that this is a matter of treating children who had no choice in their parent’s decision, humanely. These children (now young adults) have lived in the US for many years and consider themselves American, to suddenly send them back to their countries of origin is not just cruel, but also disadvantageous to the US economy. With the criteria put in place, only law-abiding, hard-working and well-educated migrants will make it through the programme. Why would the US deny itself the benefit of this group of immigrants?

According to an article in the Business Insider looking at the criteria, to be eligible, applicants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, are currently in school, a high school graduate or have been honourably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have a criminal record. These are pretty good safeguards to me that ensures only law-abiding, decent and ambitious immigrants are given the opportunity at the American dream.

So why is President Trump so against the idea? This is because it was one of the main pledges he made during his campaign. His loyal base thrive on him delivering on these promises and this is one of them. No matter how much anyone tries to convince the president otherwise, he holds his voters in a much higher regard than any logical argument.

I believe the programme if well managed is actually good for America, but I know I am in a minority in the current wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric across the world. I believe immigrants are not a nuisance but valuable assets to any country if managed properly. America should know better, as the great country is built on this very principle.

 

 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – A look at how their union could be affected by UK immigration rules

Harry and Meghan
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Photo credit: Cosmopolitan)

The news came this week of the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and plans for a Royal wedding next year. It was welcome news and myself and the rest of the country are so happy for them. Finally the prince has found love and will be settling down.

However, under UK immigration rules, Meghan Markle will be subject to residency laws which will see the couple meet stringent requirements after their wedding if they plan to live together permanently in the UK.

For mere mortals who live far away from the pomp and pageantry of British royalty, to bring over your non-European spouse into the UK, you would need to first prove to the Home Office that you can support your spouse without recourse to public funds. This means meeting an income threshold of £18,600 ($25,000) annual earnings to obtain a spouse visa for Meghan. This income threshold is based only on the income of the UK sponsor, in this case Prince Harry’s.

“The non-UK partner cannot count their income towards the threshold if they are working abroad, because of the concern that they may stop working after they come to the UK” – The Migration Observatory, The University of Oxford

According to the Migration Observatory, 40% of UK workers did not earn above £18,600 a year in 2015. We all know Harry left the army in 2015 and had not earned taxable income since then, rather he has been doing a lot of charity work and royal duty, from important conservation work to supporting mental health charities. He could however meet this requirement through the Duchy of Cornwall, the Royal estate which would provide Harry with unearned income. If Harry was an ordinary citizen, unearned income would not qualify for the Home office income requirements.

This process is made even more complicated if the couple already have children (not the case in Harry and Meghan’s situation). If the couple already have children, the annual income threshold of £18,600 ($25,000) required jumps by £3,800 ($5,100) for the first child and £2,400 ($3,200) for additional children after the first child.

Many people across the UK are being prevented from bringing their non-EU spouse (and children) into the UK by this regulation. Many families have been split apart because they cannot prove clearly to the Home Office how they meet this requirement. According to the Migration Observatory, an Home Office impact assessment in 2012 estimated that between 13,600 – 17,800 fewer people would be prevented from coming to the UK per year as a result of the income threshold. The actual figure would be much higher.

After this income hurdle, then comes the ‘financial cost’ and ‘time’ hurdles. It will be five years after Harry and Meghan get married before she can apply for permanent residency in the UK. She will initially get 2.5 years after the application for residency after their wedding next year, then she will have to renew this after this time for another 2.5 years (a total of 5 years). After 5 years she can then apply for permanent UK residency. Shortly after this she can apply for British citizenship. For ordinary citizens, this is a very costly process. In all you are looking at around £7,000 ($9,400) from getting married to becoming a permanent UK resident.

These requirements will likely will not apply to Prince Harry because he is Prince Harry, but many ordinary lives are affected by this on a day to day basis. People who love each other are penalised heavily because one of them comes from a non-European country. If they were from a European country like France, Netherlands or Poland, it is absolutely fine, you could live together in the UK immediately (this may change after Brexit though, who knows).

 

 

 

Kweku Adoboli -How a bright young man with a glistening career ended up being the UK’s worst rogue trader

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Kweku Adoboli – Picture courtesy of www. ibtimes.co.uk

I was on my way to work this morning and in the car I was listening to Radio 4’s Today programme (a news analysis programme). One of the slots was an interview with Kweku Adoboli, the 36year old young man who racked up a loss of $2.3billion while a Trader at UBS London in 2012. The biggest single loss by a UK bank in modern times.

Adoboli was on the radio after serving half his jail sentence of 7years, admitting his mistakes, warning that bad practise is still prevalent in UK banks and appealing to people to help him fight deportation from the UK so he can turn his bad experience into good for others.

Adoboli was born in Ghana and travelled the world with his family as his father was a United Nations official. He went to some of the best academic institutions in the UK and was identified as a star student. He studied computer science and business management at Nottingham University and went on to become one of the most valuable traders at UBS London operations.

In 2012, a 2-minute phone call from one of UBS’s accountants asking Adoboli to clarify some of his trading positions set the ball rolling for one of the most fascinating cases in modern times about the dark arts of stock market trading.

He was sentenced to 7 years in prison after a detailed trial that put the microscope on what goes on at trading floors across some of Britain’s biggest banks. Adoboli highlighted the immense pressures put on traders by banks to make profit, hence making them take increasingly dangerous risks that eventually spiralled out of control in his own case. Unsurprisingly though, none of the top ‘brass’ in UBS were convicted of any wrongdoing.

Adoboli in cuffs
Adoboli after arrest – picture courtesy of http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Now Kweku Adoboli is out of prison after serving half his sentence and has said he is sorry for what he has done and takes full responsibility but believes what happened to him is still happening to traders across London, bank bosses pushing traders to the very limit, goading them on to take dangerous risks with investors’ cash, then disowning them when it all goes burst.

Adoboli led a chaotic life when working at UBS, often working very long hours and spending most of those hours trying to cover up his track of deceit and lies. He would create fake trading positions to mask losses and took huge gambles with investors money. He was also alleged to have harboured a gambling habit that saw him lose vast sums of his salary, that he resorted to borrowing money from pay-day lenders to make ends meet.

Adoboli’s biggest worry at the moment is now his own fate, he now faces deportation from the UK back to his home country Ghana as a result of being a convicted foreign criminal. Though Adoboli has lived in the UK since he was 12 years old, he never applied for British citizenship. He recently lost an appeal of the Home Office’s decision to deport him. Now unemployed, broke, living with friends and surviving through money sent to him by his retired father in Ghana, Adoboli is in a bit of a mess to put it lightly. This was a man who earned over £130,000 (around 5 times average UK salary) at the peak of his career at UBS, lived in an expensive London apartment, threw parties with friends at weekends, life was good. He has gone from grace to grass, from 100miles/hr to zero in the twinkle of an eye. He has been banned by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) meaning he can no longer work in the financial services anywhere in the UK (and I’m sure no financial institutions in Europe will welcome him either).

The lesson I have learnt from this story is how quickly life can turn upside down when you make the wrong choices. Adoboli was under immense pressure from his bosses, but to meet those pressures he broke the law and paid a heavy price. The company he broke the law for continues to exist and he is now an outcast from that circle. There is no job worth ‘dying’ for.