Dawn raids to continue for asylum-seeking families

Children and Young People Now, 11 January 2011

Controversial dawn raids to remove asylum-seeking families and children from the UK will continue to be authorised under plans to end child detention in immigration cases.

An announcement last month on the future shape of immigration procedure emphasised moves to provide “family-friendly” pre-departure accommodation, allowing children the opportunity to leave the premises in the lead-up to a specific removal date.

However, a UK Border Agency document detailing the new process reveals a number of controversial practices will remain with pre-departure accommodation being used as a “backstop” option if alternative methods fail.

Other options include “limited notice removals”, which would involve a family being returned any time between 72 hours and 21 days of notice being given, without an exact date being specified.

Open accommodation is another listed alternative. Concerns have previously been raised about the impact of limited notice removals. A report by the charity Medical Justice last year raised concerns about the use of force in raids and their psychological effect on children.

Kamena Dorling, manager of the Migrant Children’s Project at the Children’s Legal Centre, said limited notice removals also create barriers to families getting legal advice.

“If families are without legal representation when they are given this notice of removal, they may find legal representatives are unwilling to take on their case,” she said.

“This will therefore increase the risk that families who have well-founded fears of persecution in their countries of origin will be forcibly removed from the UK.”

Meanwhile, under the new process officials will be entitled to separate children from parents “to manage more extreme examples of disruption”.