Sheffield is home to people who owe their origins to more than 120 countries, with over 160 languages, who have enriched our city enormously. Many came here to work in our factories and hospitals. Others fled war and persecution and found their sanctuary in our city. And many more have come here to study, contributing an estimated £120 million to the Sheffield economy each year.
I have therefore taken up a lot of migration and refugee issues in Parliament. I was a member of the Public Bill Committee scrutinising the Government’s most recent divisive Immigration Bill (you can read all of my contributions here and a summary of my work here). I also brought Labour’s then Shadow Immigration Minister Sir Keir Starmer to Sheffield to see and hear first-hand from people about the benefits and challenges immigration brings.
Calling for immigration policies that make economic sense
Our universities are losing out, whilst other countries benefit from the boost to their economies that international students bring. I have repeatedly pressed the Government to remove international students from the net migration cap. I also chaired an inquiry into the closure of the post-study work visa route, which attracted talented students to our universities from around the world, and have raised this in Parliament.
We must also make sure our economy is not based on exploitative employment practices and tackle the scourge of modern slavery. I sit on the board of the charity Focus on Labour Exploitation and was heavily involved with scrutinising the Government’s Modern Slavery Act. Read some of my speeches on it here, here and here.
Challenging policies that divide families
I have challenged the Government’s restrictive family migration rules, which are causing hardship and suffering for Brits trying to bring their spouses to the UK. The APPG on Migration, of which I was previously Chair, launched an inquiry into this issue and recommended the Government review its rules.
Ensuring we live up to our humanitarian obligations
Britain has a strong history of welcoming people fleeing persecution. I’m proud that Sheffield was the UK’s first City of Sanctuary. I have repeatedly called on the Government to provide more safe and legal routes for people to reach safety and have written about how we need a European solution to the refugee crisis. I organised an appeal for Syrian refugees that raised almost £7000 and work closely with the anti-destitution charity Assist.
Our immigration system must be fair, humane and effective, but whilst people can be held in immigration detention indefinitely, I don’t believe it will be. I was Vice Chair of a cross-party Parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention that called for a 28-day time limit on immigration detention. This would be more humane (people in prison at least know how long they’re in for!), more effective and less expensive. I led a debate in the House of Commons where the report’s recommendations were approved. I am continuing to push the Home Office to commit to a time limit. I have also written about the issue in the Guardian here.
These are just some of the issues I’ve taken up. Please get in touch if you want to know about my work on an issue that isn’t mentioned here.