Nick, one of our legal managers, writes:
We intervened to help a new father held in a detention centre. ‘A’ was placed in detention despite his partner being heavily pregnant and due to give birth in the next three weeks.
‘A’ had been fully compliant with the immigration authorities for the 18 months prior to his sudden detention. His partner suffered from mental ill-health and would not be capable of caring for the baby on her own without our client. For this reason, the local authority asked the Home Office on a number of occasions for the client to be released:
But the Home Office refused to release him. After the mother gave birth, the baby was placed in the care of the local authority, because ‘A’ was still detained.
We made repeated efforts to secure ‘A’s release on bail, arguing that according to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Home Office’s own stated policy, the baby’s needs must be a top priority and therefore ‘A’ should be released so that he could be his child’s primary care-giver.
The Home Office had the nerve to argue that because the client was in detention when the baby was born, he did not have any meaningful involvement in the child’s life and so there was no Article 8 barrier to his removal from the UK (even though it was their actions that had deprived him of a relationship with the child):
After a number of successive applications for bail, ‘A’ was eventually released after 9 months in detention, well after the birth of his child. That this child spent the first nine months of its life separated from its parents by the actions of the government - in breach of its own policies and the best interests of that child - is quite disgraceful.
It should be noted that this was not a deportation case; the father had no criminal record.