*This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News newspaper on the 29th of January 2019*

Edinburgh Rugby star, Damien Hoyland, who has also won four caps for Scotland, has challenged the U.K. Home Office over its “hostile environment” immigration policy as they seek to return his grandparents, Mozaffar Saberi, 83, and Rezvan Habibimarand, 73, to Iran.

The grandparents bought a flat in Edinburgh over 40 years ago and have lived here longer than I have, yet the Home Office rejected their application to remain following a 2012 rule change that made it more difficult for parents spending their last years in the U.K.

This is an Edinburgh family; they have a great-grandchild and 11 grandchildren, 1 with autism who they are carers for. They are part of the fabric of this city.

My colleague, Ian Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South has written to the Home Secretary seeking this callous decision be overturned.

This is a case in point of the hostile environment that simply tries to justify visa refusal rather than looking at a case with any human compassion or taking into account individual circumstances.

Let’s hope the right decision is reached and the family are granted leave to remain here in the city they call home.

I wish this was an unusual case, but this is something we see time and time again.

This might not be a popular opinion with my Labour colleagues, but if devolution has any purpose it’s to do things differently where we see a need for change.

Given Scotland’s unique demographic challenges and the threat to our workforce from Brexit, maybe it is time to look at a regional approach to immigration, ending the hostile environment for those living here or seeking work and instead recognising our need to welcome more people here.

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