Welsh commissioner in challenge to bill

The children’s commissioner for Wales has issued what is being seen
as a direct challenge to government proposals that could see the
children of destitute asylum seekers removed from their

The case of a failed asylum seeker from Zimbabwe, who gave birth to
a baby in Cardiff two weeks ago and who is not receiving state
benefits, has been taken up by the commissioner’s office. The
26-year-old woman cannot be deported back to Zimbabwe because it is
against Home Office policy to send failed asylum seekers back

If clause 7 of the Asylum and Immigration Bill becomes law, failed
asylum seekers who become destitute after having their benefits
stopped and who do not return to their homeland may have their
children taken into local authority care.

But in a letter to the chief children’s officer for Cardiff
Council, deputy children’s commissioner Maria Battle outlined her
view of the way the Children Act 1989 should be interpreted. “This
baby is a child in need as defined by section 17 of the act,” she
wrote. “Any service provided by the council in the exercise of
functions conferred on them by section 17 may be provided for the
family of the child if it is provided with a view to safeguarding
or promoting the child’s welfare.”

A council spokesperson said it was aware of the case and was
complying with its statutory duties.

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