Over 100,000 children who grew up in the UK do not have regular immigration status. It's time to change the system—before there's another Windrush scandalby Kamena Dorling / May 3, 2018 / Leave a comment
The Windrush scandal, and the systemic problems that have caused it—unlawful deportations, Home Office errors and the broader impact of the ‘hostile environment’ policy—have led to ever louder calls for change in past weeks. These culminated in the resignation of the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday night.
The next day, MPs interrogated the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, about his commitment to an “immigration policy that is fair and treats people with respect and with decency.” Quick to differentiate between “illegal migration” and “those who have a clear right to be in the UK,” Javid’s responses sustained the government’s narrative that has portrayed Windrush as an anomaly and defended the use of the ‘hostile environment’ against those said to have no right to be in the country.
This distinction, and the repeated dehumanising references to ‘illegal migrants’, ignores the vast numbers in the UK, including children born or raised here, who have every right to be here but who are, or become, undocumented because they face an immigration system that is impossible to navigate and too expensive.
For example, the single mother who tries to extend her visa but finds that a week before her application is due the fee has been increased by over £800 and she can no longer afford it. Or the 20–year-old who has lived here since the age of 8 but can not pay for legal advice as well as her four-figure application fee and whose application to extend her visa is rejected.
These are cases that children’s charity Coram, committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable young people, sees daily. They illustrate that much more must be done to address the needs of all long-settled people currently suffering as a result of an immigration system that is not fit for purpose.
Over 100,000 undocumented children and young people have grown up in the UK, been educated here and think of themselves as British, but do not have regular immigration status.
For some, this only becomes evident when they leave school and try to work or study. Just like the Windrush generation, many are entitled to British citizenship but are unable to get the documentation to prove it because of staggeringly high fees, systemic complexity and a lack of funded legal advice. At the point…