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Immigration concerns prioritised over migrant children’s welfare, say MPs

Immigration policy is too often prioritised over the welfare of vulnerable migrant children, a committee of MPs has concluded.

According to a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, unaccompanied children often face extensive interviews after their arrival in the UK, interviews for which interpreters may not be available. They may also be placed in inadequate housing without proper support and offered only patchy educational opportunities.

Such children have often fled violence, abuse or exploitation in the countries of origin, enduring traumatic journeys travelling to the UK without their parents.

Nevertheless, the MPs state:

“…despite the rights to protection and support owed to those children by the UK under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, immigration concerns are too often given priority.”

The MPs call for “…a change in emphasis to put the best interests of such children at the heart of the often complex and stressful asylum and immigration processes affecting them.”

The recommended changes include

*”Overcoming the ‘culture of disbelief’ about the age of unaccompanied migrant children”. Frequent disputes about the age of the children put  “their welfare and best interests at risk”.

*”Clearer decision-making about the future of children”. Such decisions are often delayed until the children approach adulthood.

*’More concerted efforts to bring best interests to the fore in making and implementing policy’. A new cross-government strategy is needed to protect unaccompanied migrant children.

Kamena Dorling is manager of the Migrant Children’s Project at Coram Children’s Legal Centre and also the co-chair of the Refugee Children’s Consortium. She said:

“Unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have often been through experiences unimaginable to most of us. They are alone in the UK with no one to care for them. The Committee’s report is a timely reminder that the UK is still failing to meet its legal obligations to these children. Too often their rights are not realised in practice and they are denied the support and protection they so desperately need.”

She added:

“It is long overdue that children’s best interests are truly put at the heart of all decisions made about them, whatever their status. It is vital that central and local government take real and prompt action to implement the  many practical and systemic changes needed, as recommended in this important report, so that we do not continue to fail these children.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “*”Overcoming the ‘culture of disbelief’ about the age of unaccompanied migrant children”. Frequent disputes about the age of the children put “their welfare and best interests at risk”.”

    I’m afraid this is just rubbish, there is usually very good reason for disbelief, the con game on immigration is alive and well (for understandable reasons as far as each specific individual is concerned) and suggestions like this will only encourage it further.

    Unless this country intends to adopt an “open door policy” – for which there is ZERO public support – there can be no relaxation of the current system. Actually it probably needs to be tightened.

  2. henry David O. says:

    The immigration rule of cash and carry and family migration is pound foolish penny wise, many migrants children are stranded in UK without their natural parents who would have been working to care for them. But some of these innocent children parents have been torn apart due to this anti right of children rule.
    While UK keep fending for these children thanklessly either from the parent or the children themselves. It is high time this law is thrown out to the nearest dustbin for the sake of sanity and fresh air
    My two children are UK, with my wife and the immigration has refused me visa to come around to care for them. While children and the mother allowances have increases with free accommodation for them.

    My Home UKBA OFFICE Ref No. is HOME OFFICE REF H1192539/3

    Please write me or request for more information from me how UKBA is wastting the tax payers money on separated family, my case is a relevant case, becuase I am willing to care for my children

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