The government has defended an Identity Malta decision to refuse a residence permit to 22 children whose parents already work here, saying that granting them a residence permit would put them at risk of living in poverty
Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli told a press conference that the decisions had been taken in the children's best interest.
Times of Malta reported on Sunday that the mostly Serbian parents had been informed by Identity Malta that since they did not satisfy financial requirements, their children could no longer stay in Malta. The policy requires expatriate workers to earn a minimum of €19,000 a year, as well as €3,800 extra for each child.
Ms Julia Farrugia Portelli said it was important that people didn’t get carried away by 'sensational' stories. The policy, she insisted, was was there to protect children from living in poverty.
“As a state we have to make sure that no child is held back. My heart goes out for every child, but there are some families of four who, after subtracting rent and NI from their salary, would end up with €150 a month.”
As a mother herself, she could sympathise with how hard it was to be separated from one's children. That was why Identity Malta in its assessment of income, applied a more lenient approach than actually laid down in national law.
Ms Farrugia Portelli insisted that the parents have the right to appeal the Identity Malta decision, at which point their cases will be assessed by an independent tribunal.
Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo referred to fund-raising efforts to help the children, saying that however well-intentioned, what the children needed was a higher and more stable income for their families.
Family Minister Michael Falzon insisted that the policy was not discriminatory and that it was in the children’s best interest that the state didn’t allow them to live in poverty.
“These rules are there to protect children rather than harm them,” he said.
Parent 'lost for words'
The ministers' comments drew an immediate reaction from one of the parents involved.
Velimir Dulo told Times of Malta that he was lost for words.
He that he earns an annual salary of €27,000 (gross) and yet he was still refused a residence permit for his two children.
His children, he insisted, were not living in poverty.
“They have a home, food, toys, clothes. They never told me that they miss something in their life. We are also helping others in need. I donated a nice sum for L-Istrina a couple days ago.”
Pictures of children are being carried with permission.
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