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Indian couple challenges UK immigration law

An Indian couple on Wednesday challenged a UK immigration law that contains an English language speaking requirement. The provision [Home Office backgrounder], which was announced in June 2010 by UK Home Secretary Theresa May [official website], requires an immigrant to be able to speak English [Economic Times report] before joining his or her spouse in the UK. The couple's lawyer argued before the High Court in Birmingham that the language requirement violates the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] and called the law "blatantly, admittedly, racially discriminatory." The couple, who have been married for 37 years and have six children, are seeking to live permanently in England after traveling between India and England for 15 years.

Immigration has long been a controversial topic in the UK. The number of UK employers prosecuted for hiring illegal immigrants has spiked [JURIST report] since changes to British immigration laws were implemented in February 2008. In 2006, the Home Office [official website] announced plans to overhaul [JURIST report] Britain's immigration system in a review [text, PDF] outlining how the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate [official website] will respond to the impact of globalization, changing travel patterns and evolving international crime and terrorism. The Labour Party government of former prime minister Gordon Brown pursued plans to institute a national ID card system [JURIST news archive] as part of the UK's effort to clamp down on illegal immigrants [JURIST report].

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