As the Trump Administration in the United States has recently come under severe criticism for its endorsement of separating children from their parents at the border, a charity that challenges immigration detention has now claimed that possibly hundreds of children are separated from their parents every year in the UK.
According to the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID), UK immigration authorities are separating children from their parents who have been taken into immigration detention. BID has so far this year represented 155 parents who have been separated from their child or children whilst in immigration detention in the UK, whereas previously it normally handled around 170 cases a year.
However, due to the fact that the Home Office does not release statistics on the number of parents in immigration detention, the actual number of parents separated from children remains unknown.
Nevertheless, parents are being taken away from their children, unexpectedly and for unknown periods of time, with the added threat of permanent removal.
If the parents are permanently removed, this is known to often have devastating effects on the children involved.
Home Office guidance states that children should not be separated from a parent if this would result in the child being taken into care, however BID dealt with a case in March 2018 of a Nigerian father who was detained when reporting to the Home Office after dropping his four children off at school. At the time, his wife was in Nigeria for her father’s funeral, and his children, all British citizens, were placed in care for several days before the mother could return to the UK.
Celia Clarke, the Director of BID, said in relation to the scrutiny over the United States: “…in the UK we do not have the moral high ground. Our government has been separating parents from their children for the purposes of immigration control for years. Parents are detained with no time limit on that detention and no automatic legal representation, leaving their children in the community”.
Additionally, there appears to be limited awareness, both publicly and within the government, of the extent to which the “hostile environment” strategy introduced by Theresa May has also contributed to children being separated from their parents.
James Cleverly, the MP and deputy chair of the Conservative party, said in June: “We don’t do this in the UK. We have a very family-focused detention regime”. Despite this claim, the Home Office has specific guidance for staff who are engaged in splitting up families through immigration detention and deportation. The latest version was issued in December 2017 and is titled: “Family Separations”.
Gherson has extensive experience dealing with UK immigration matters and human rights. Should you have any questions or require any legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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