Newborn babies are being taken into care as a result of a
government policy that makes their asylum seeking mothers
destitute, it was alleged this week, writes Simon
Vevers and Amy Taylor.
Midwives say infants are being removed from their mothers
because of a policy that means families whose asylum claims are
unsuccessfully and who do not voluntarily leave the UK within two
weeks of the secretary of state deciding they are able to are
Under the policy, social workers are being forced to remove
children from their families on the basis that they do not have the
resources to look after them.
Community midwife June Walker said that she had worked with a
woman whose asylum claim failed and who had her baby, which was
born in Lewisham hospital, south east London, removed and placed in
foster care after she was found to be living in squalid
Charity The Maternity Alliance told Community Care’s
sister title 0-19 that it is aware of midwives who have dealt with
a number of cases where mothers have had their babies taken away at
birth and placed in foster care.
Only single adult asylum seekers were affected by the policy
until last December when it was extended to families under section
9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004.
It is being piloted for this group in the north-west and several
London boroughs before being rolled out nationally.
Outrage greeted the announcement of the proposed policy last
spring. But immigration minister Des Browne said that he was
“satisfied that the purpose of the Immigration and Asylum Act
2004 is not to take children away from their parents” (news,
page 13, 23-29 September 2004).
British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said
the cases “confirm our worst fears” about the
A spokesperson for Lewisham Council said that it was not the
authority’s policy to receive children into care on the grounds
that their parents had been made destitute through the policy and
to the council’s knowledge they had not done so.