THE tears flowed. The pain was real, and deep. Eyes which showed hurt, betrayal, and helplessness. The young constituent at my surgery had been broken by his long battle with the hostile environment. He had already been through unimaginable trauma, and the way he had been treated by the faceless bureaucracy of the Home Office only compounded his suffering.

I couldn’t give him the certainty he deserved over his future on Friday, as much as I wanted to. All I can do is plead his case to ministers, and keep my fingers crossed for a speedy and positive response.

This constituent is one of far, far too many who have cried at my surgeries in the past four years. Most of them have cried due to the cruelty of the Home Office.

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I have seen countless wives and husbands, separated by thousands of miles and heartbroken by the price the UK Government puts on love. Some have fallen short of the minimum income requirement of the spousal visa by just a few pounds.

Some have been working several jobs to meet that threshold, exhausted by the strain of trying to save for the increasing and exorbitant immigration fees on top of just trying to make ends meet.

Coupled with this, there are the children who can’t get to see their parents, whose inconsolable pleas of “when can I see my daddy?” ought to melt the hardest of hearts; infuriatingly, not those of the Prime Minister, and her policy and decision makers at the Home Office.

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The cut-off for family reunion is a particularly disturbing aspect of Home Office policy – just a day over the age of 18, and the Home Office deems you not to be an “immediate family member”.

I remember well the father in tears, clutching a photograph of the teenaged son he had been separated from, who he could only now speak to on the phone.

A child doesn’t stop being your child just because they have turned 18. That family had reached Scotland, to a place of sanctuary and safety, but with the enduring and profound sadness of not being complete.

Even something as simple as having a family member come to visit is a lottery. Constituents have been asked to provide detailed financial statements, both from themselves and their relation, to prove they can support themselves on their visit and they will definitely go home afterwards. Even when that evidence is overwhelming and clear, the Home Office says no. People who have homes, caring responsibilities and jobs are regularly disbelieved. With no right of appeal to these refusals, it can be a costly process.

Constituents who have come to me are offended, embarrassed and perplexed – all they want to do is show off the country they call home. Some haven’t seen their relations for years due to this petty bureaucracy, and others have found it easier to go and meet their family in other countries rather than bring them to the UK.

There is a complete lack of consistency in these refusals, with people finding that even when a family member has visited on multiple occasions with no issues, they can still be refused on spurious grounds.

I’ve seen a group of people coming to the UK for a very specific purpose, such as a family wedding, delayed by so much bureaucracy that they miss the big event.

In other instances, the Home Office has found itself unable to understand simple things, like the difference between an opening and closing statement on a bank balance. I’m never quite sure if this is incompetence or deliberate obtuseness, but it causes a lot of hurt and disappointment to those affected.

Worse than this is the visitor visas I’ve seen refused even when there is a desperate need for the Home Office to exercise compassion. This has included a woman who wanted her mum to come and visit during her pregnancy. This was refused. When the baby was born, it was very poorly, and she applied for a second time; again she was refused. When she came to see me, her baby had died and the Home Office had just refused a visitor visa for the third time. She and her husband were completely traumatised, in tears. Their case is by no means exceptional – the heartlessness of Theresa May’s Home Office has left many of my constituents in the depths of despair at their most vulnerable time.

And then there are those asylum seeekers refused the chance of making a living in this country. Asylum seekers come with a range of skills which would be valuable to Scotland. It makes absolutely no sense to me that many of the people I see at my surgeries are left to languish in Home Office limbo for indefinite lengths of time – years in some cases.

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They are unable to use their skills and contribute as they would dearly love to do. This often has a detrimental effect on the health of wellbeing of the asylum seeker and their family, and they struggle to make ends meet. Working would both help integrate asylum seekers into society and allow them to get some stability back into their lives. I urge the Home office to lift the ban and allow asylum seekers to work.

THE Home Office has left many people who have made a significant contribution to the UK feeling as though their efforts are completely unappreciated. The Highly Skilled Migrants group has been particularly harshly treated by the UK Government.

Having been here for over a decade, they found themselves being refused under 322 (5) of the immigration rules, which implies being of bad character or representing a threat to national security, all for making a legitimate and minor change to their tax return.

This means being asked to leave the UK, not being allowed to work, and being plunged into debt to fight their case through the courts. For some, this has had a very serious effect on their mental health, and they have struggled to cope with the strain. Families have also been put under significant pressure, as parents can’t work and they have no access to social security, which the rest of us could fall back on. Getting any of this resolved has been incredibly complex and frustrating; for a long time, the Home Office denied there was even a problem. Tenacious immigration lawyers, the courts and the media have made all the difference.

Media coverage has been instrumental in making progress in many immigration cases. It is a persistent allegation that if a case appears in the press, there is a better chance of success – and I have seen this confirmed from my own work on the Highly Skilled Migrants campaign. Those who were prepared to share their stories and put themselves in the limelight received positive decisions from the Home Office a full six months faster than others who could not.

In her many years at the Home Office and her short time as Prime Minister, Theresa May has shown no compassion whatsoever for the plight of my constituents, and millions like them. Her personal obsession with driving down immigration at all costs created the hostile environment which has punished so many. I’ve seen casual callousness, utter disregard for the most vulnerable, and, again and again, people ground down by a petty, faceless, bureaucracy. My tears will always be for those who Theresa May and this cruel Tory Government has failed; Theresa May’s have only ever been for herself.