regular panel comments on a topic in the news.
The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill,
is to be extended to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The measures will
mean routine interviews and reporting arrangements for 16 and 17 year olds who
face deportation on reaching 18. Kathy Casey, deputy director of asylum and
appeals policy at the Home Office, said that social workers should be preparing
them for their departure to their home countries rather than leave them to
their own devices until their time was up. The interviews are intended to
identify young people who are making multiple applications for asylum and to
establish the circumstances of their emigration from their country of origin.
Casey said that any unaccompanied child or young person who was granted four
years’ exceptional leave to remain could expect indefinite leave to remain once
the four years had expired. The Department of Health is currently considering
how to extend responsibility for supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
to more councils.
Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and Fostering
"The Children Act 1989 is a powerful child-centred piece of legislation.
Extending this legislation through to addressing immigration issues needs
imagination and understanding of children’s perspectives. Immigration officers
will need to be thoroughly prepared for this challenging task to ensure that we
do not repeat in the UK what children have come here to avoid – insensitivity,
intolerance, harassment and threat. It should be the basis on which we are
judged on the international stage for our commitment to human rights and
particularly those of children."
Phil Frampton, national chairperson, Care
"Deporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children at 18 is an act of
barbarism. It goes completely against the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. The
idea that a parentless child can be assisted to cope with this country then
dumped in another is preposterous. It is in grotesque contrast to the
government’s lax attitude towards the £4bn tax loophole for wealthy foreign
nationals and suggests that the government is once more hell-bent on targeting
the weak and defenceless. I suggest a new target for this government –
Karen Warwick, senior practitioner, Barnardo’s
"The reason being given for interviewing children is so more information
can be ascertained about their
personal circumstances and reasons for emigration. I hope that this will be
used to assist with the assessment of the needs of these children. My concern
is that the increase in deportations will mean that many children will go
through difficult interviews, only to be returned to their country of origin
Bill Badham, programme manager, Children’s Society
"It’s happening slowly but surely. Young refugees are gaining a voice. At
their national conference in June, "Dreams, Struggles and Survivors,"
they proclaimed their right to protection, provision and participation as
children first in the UK. Now there’s a challenge to government strategy based
on forced segregation in accommodation centres and from mainstream education.
Induction must respond to the child’s best interests, not be a means of
reaching deportation targets."
Julia Ross, executive director for health and social care, London Borough
of Barking and Dagenham
"This is not what one would expect from a civilised nation which used to
have a strong tradition of welcoming immigration. Interviews are fine as long
as children are offered support in the process. But it’s the message behind
them and the intention to repatriate apparently regardless of need which sends
shivers up my spine. Social workers are becoming more like agents of social
control every day. Whatever happened to our role of supporting and protecting