Every day in Britain children are separated from their parents. For these particular children, it’s not because their parents have abused or neglected them, but because their parents are subject to immigration control and the government has decided to detain them while they try to remove or deport them from the UK. Despite the fact that the Home Office has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, decisions are regularly made to place parents in immigration detention.
The impact of this separation on children is devastating. Research we have carried out has shown that children in this situation can suffer from poor sleep, nightmares and difficulties eating. We find this truly shocking and we do not believe that parents should be separated from their children simply because they are foreign nationals subject to immigration control. Can you think of any other setting in the UK where this would be allowed to happen?
There’s no time limit to immigration detention and, unlike the criminal justice system, there’s no automatic bail hearing for immigration detainees. Parents can stay in detention for weeks, months or even years.
At BID, our family team provides legal advice and representation to parents in immigration detention to help them get released. In the last year, the team reunited 338 children with their parents. BID also carries out research and lobbies civil servants and politicians to make changes to the system.
Dorothy was separated from her son by detention. She told us:
“It was almost five months in Yarl’s Wood. I just saw my son the one time. Because he was asking me “why can’t you come home mummy? You don’t come. Mummy let’s go home”. When he came to visit he said “Mummy can I sleep here with you?” If I look at him I try to control myself, not to cry in front of him, so when he left I was crying and saying ‘God help me’. It was very hard.”
We want to bring an end to the separation of families by detention. And we will be launching a big push on our cases, trying to set parents free, so they can spend Christmas and the holiday period with their families.
Please help BID to continue this essential work by making a donation here to our Free For Christmas appeal.
- £5 could pay for 50 of BID's factsheets on accommodation and financial support options on release from detention.
- £10 could pay for ten copies of BID's award winning self-help guide for detainees 'How to get out of detention'
- £50 would cover the travel costs for a legal manager to deliver a bail workshop at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
For further information contact [email protected]