Members of the audience at Community Care Live’s
first Question Time were united last night in their condemnation of
government proposals to remove the children of failed asylum
seekers who refuse to return home, writes Lauren
Children’s minister Margaret Hodge struggled to face down
criticism of the policy, included in the Asylum and Immigration
Bill currently going through Parliament.
She insisted that separating families was not the intention of
the policy, and that responsibility lay with those parents whose
asylum applications had been refused to avoid the problem by
leaving the country.
“The policy is not one where will nilly we will remove
children from their parents,” Hodge said. “The policy
is that we will speed up the system.
“If it is an unfounded application then the family has to
go. Then the responsibility does lie with the family to abide by
Hodge’s “wait and see” approach to the
potential problem did little to reassure practitioners in the
500-strong audience, who indicated that they would be unwilling to
enforce the plans and raised questions about the legality of doing
so given their duties towards children under the Children Act
Concerns were also raised about what would happen to children
once they had been removed given that there was already a shortage
of foster carers.
Community Care acting editor Mark Ivory told the
session, chaired by BBC journalist Jeremy Vine: “There is no
point hiding behind the fiction that asylum seekers have put
themselves in this situation.
“The fact the state can contemplate doing something of
this kind beggars belief.”