Demand for overseas marriage review…

September 22, 2004

A fundamental review of the immigration rules on marriage with partners from overseas is called for in a new report from think-tank Migrationwatch out today. (Read report).

The role of arranged marriages in creating a continuous flow of immigration has been identified as being a significant source of population increase, especially in certain areas of British cities government figures show the flow of spouses and fianc(e)s from the Indian sub-continent alone doubled between 1996 and 2001 to 22,000
a year.

When primary immigration from this region came to an end in the early 1970s it was assumed that family reunion would tail off as families integrated, said Sir Andrew Green Chairman of Migrationwatch.

However this has not occurred and, in practice, the custom of arranged marriage has continued in a process that has become cyclical and self-reinforcing. It is time this was carefully reviewed.

He said that the rules governing marriages from overseas are such as to permit them to be used as a channel of immigration. As a result, young Asians and their families can come under intense pressure to marry someone from their country of origin. This can, and often does, lead to personal unhappiness and divorce.

One effect has been to impede the integration of those already settled here, he said. Another has been to add further to the high concentration of immigrants in certain areas.

An Annex to the Ousley report on Bradford (not published at the time) pointed out that arranged marriages were contributing to very rapid population growth in the city, placing severe demands on public services. And as the Governments Cohesion Panel put it in July 2004; The pace of change (for a variety of reasons) is simply too great in some areas at present. These pressures could increase as the number of British Asians reaching marriageable age increases considerably.

The paper also examines the Danish experience, one of the few countries to face up to this issue by raising the threshold age for marriage and introducing much tighter requirements for housing and maintenance changes that were welcomed by many young Asians.

We have put forward a number of recommendations which we hope will be discussed as part of the debate on this highly sensitive but important subject, said Sir Andrew.

The UK is already a close second to Holland as the most crowded country in Europe and it is clear that many people are very concerned that the present immigration system is failing to control the numbers coming to Britain.

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