UKBA can’t form its decisions on poor evidence

Thanks to Free Movement for circulating a judgement that is likely to have important consequences on the way UKBA’s interpret its statutory obligation to safeguard children.

In a judgment handed down on 26 October HH Judge Anthony Thornton QC has given guidance on the scope of the UKBA’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK in carrying out their functions. The judgement follows the guidance of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4. The case is R (on the application of Tinizaray) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 1850 (Admin).

The judgement notices the paucity of information on which UKBA had relied in making its initial decision and clarifies that the guidance of the Supreme Court requires the UKBA to be proactive in filling the information gaps whereas the applicants hasn’t provided enough. The judge enlists the information needed to the UKBA to ‘form a balance view’:

 The decision maker needed to have detailed information about Angeles’s life in England over the entire 9 years of her life including detailed information of where she had lived and was now living, her relationship with her mother and grandmother, her entire educational history, her social network and her aptitudes and future predictions for her further all-round development if she remained in England for the remainder of her childhood. This information needed to be compared with what her life would be like if she moved to Ecuador. That would require detailed information from Zaira and Vicenta as to how they had lived and maintained themselves in England and as to their and Angeles’s life-style, including where and how they would live and maintain themselves, if they returned to Ecuador. Detailed information about the relevant schools and school system that Angeles would attend in Ecuador would also be needed.

As pointed out on a post on ‘Free Movement’, this is more than most immigration lawyers could have hoped for, but ‘ the judgment must be right, though’, and while the lenght of the list and the duty to be proactive in case of missing information is likely to put a significant administrative burden on UKBA, this is certainly a welcome development for the campaigners for children’s rights in the UK.

France, Italy and the renationalisation of EU borders

The political support behind the EU project is slowly but steadily fading away. The recent bilateral summit between the president of France and Italy’s prime minister while the latest of a series of signs of this trend, is also particularly relevant because involves two wealthy and (relatively) populous founding members of the EU. The preference for bilateral vs. multilateral negotiations is by itself symptomatic of the crisis. No one is surprised if a UK prime minister is EU-sceptical, that’s part of the game. It is a different story if France goes on war almost unilaterally, suspends Schengen preventively and Italy questions the very existence of the EU. And let’s not forget that no long ago Angela Merkel was reported threatening Germany withdrawal from the Euro. The revolutionary movements in North Africa and Middle East are providing yet another stage on which the EU drama is unfolding. Real, perceived or imagined human migration is at the core of the current tensions within the EU and among EU members. Can what should be a manageable flow of 30,000 migrants from Tunisia lead to the abolition of Schengen? The renationalisation of EU borders is in full motion. Cui prodest? Who benefits from this?

Irregular migration and the management of EU borders

New report by Franck Duvell and Bastian Vollmer (ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society) on securitizing the EU borders and the irregularization of migration. The report provides an analysis of irregular migration flows and stocks, and EU policy responses.

Two more reports were published recently on irregular migration in Britain: IPPR’s controversial ‘No easy options‘ and  Migrants Resource Centre’s ‘Hope costs nothing‘. For a discussion on irregular migrant children and  the challanges to public policy see my recent paper on The Migration Observatory.

Being children, migrant and undocumented: a background paper

Published in COMPAS Working Paper Series (n.78, 2010),  this background paper offers a critical review of key terms, concepts and evidence which will inform our ongoing qualitative study on the situation of undocumented migrant minors in the UK. The paper first addresses issues related to the definition of the target group, considering in particular the dichotomy legal/illegal immigration and showing how it fails to acknowledge two important aspects: the layered nature of legal status and entitlements, and the mobility between different statuses over time. It then introduces the debate on children in migration and illustrates some of the tensions that the migration of children produces, both discursively and in policy terms. It goes on to consider the legal and policy context in which children and families without legal status are embedded in Britain. It discusses the complex and contradictory position of this group as revealed in policy documents and existing immigration and child-related legislation. It focuses in particular on issues such as access to health and education services, and employment of undocumented migrants under 18. Finally the paper outlines the main trends in the migration of children, providing a preliminary mapping of the numbers and locations of undocumented children in Britain.

Triple vulnerability: the lives of Britain’s undocumented migrant children

Undocumented migrant children stand at the crossroads of different and conflicting policy agendas. The unresolved tension between commitments to protect children’s rights and to securing borders is embedded in government policies and is shaping the everyday lives in Britain of thousands of children. In this article published in openDemocracy I explore some aspects and consequences of this conflict.