LAST week the House of Commons rejected proposals to keep protections for child refugees in the redrafted EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill. But what does it actually mean and how do we make sure that human rights and child protection remain at the centre of our policies and legislation?

The UK is currently the only place in the EU that prevents minors from being reunited with family members once they have reached safety and been granted leave to remain. When an adult arrives in the UK and goes through the long and stressful process of seeking asylum, if they are eventually granted refugee status, they have the right to reunite with their family and to bring them to safety.

However, if you are a child, a minor who has travelled alone and successfully navigated the asylum system alone, even once you are granted refugee status you are no longer given the right to reunite with your family.

When you have looked into the eyes of children who cannot comprehend why there would be a law in place to prevent them from reuniting with their family you cannot look away.

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When you have listened to the stories of Kindertransport with people who boarded those trains more than 80 years ago and who are fighting for children today to receive the same compassion that they did all those years ago, you cannot stop hearing it.

When you have seen the joy and relief of a family reuniting, witnessed a child embrace their father for the first time since they learned to walk and seen the quiet elation of a husband and wife sharing their first hand-hold in more than 21 months, you cannot fail to see it as anything other than a human right to be with those you love.

Our government is intentionally keeping families apart, preventing people from making progress in a life they did not choose, in a country they did not choose, surrounded by people who are not their people. And while I might like to think that it is not my government who are doing this to people, while in current climes it is certainly not easy for many to have faith in democracy, whether we voted them in or not, they are our government, and using that connection is possibly the only way that we may be able to force change.

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This isn’t just a human rights issue – it is a family issue, it is a mental health issue, it is a child protection issue. And for Glasgow it is a pressing issue.

In the past year, an average of

12 unaccompanied children arrived every month. The additional support that a young person requires as a result of not being allowed to reunite with family is of course costly and timely, and nothing in comparison to the love, care and attention of a family member.

We cannot stop at welcoming people, we must support them in fighting for their human rights once they are among us just like we would if it were our brother, our aunty or our neighbour.

The support services are critical for guidance and for information but they should not be expected to replace the care and attention that a family member can provide. Their role should be additional, not to contribute care wholly.

We must take heed. As Erika Pinheiro, litigation and policy director of Al Otro Lado in southern California and at the southern border of Tijuana, Mexico, rightly points out: “The dystopian immigration systems being built up in first-world countries are a test of citizens to see how far you are willing to let the government go in taking away other people’s rights, when you think it won’t happen to you.”

We are being tested. We can sit back and watch these things happen to the other, but if that is the option that you choose then know that your government, our government is merely using it as test on the other but of us, to see if they can get away with the same treatment of its very own citizens.