The US policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexico border came under mass scrutiny this week. Videos of young children in cage-like detention centres crying for their parent sparked international condemnation. The policy was defended by the administration as crucial to deterring illegal immigration into the US. However, after public outcry President Trump signed an executive order officially ending the separation policy. The executive order means the practice of separating undocumented parents and children will end , but does not contain any provisions for the many children already separated from their families.
The media coverage of the US situation has left many here wondering how the children of illegal immigrants are treated in the United Kingdom. Article 362 (ii) of the current Home Office immigration rules states that a person is liable to deportation, “ where the person is the spouse or civil partner or child under 18 of a person ordered to be deported”. Under these rules where an adult is found to be living in the UK illegally and is issued with a deportation order any dependent children will be deported with them.
Persons awaiting deportation in the UK are often taken to a detention centre. Detention centres in the UK have a combined capacity of roughly 3,000. Unlike the US policy children remain with their mothers in these facilities although fathers are often taken to male only centres. Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire is Britain’s primary detention centre for women and children. While mothers and children are not separated in the UK there has been some controversy over the conditions in detention centres. The prisons inspectorate has criticised the facilities for women and children at a number of detention facilities in recent years.
Article by Niamh McGurk
Photograph’ The Independent