100,000 children in London ‘without secure immigration status’

Of note:

New research estimates that more than 100,000 children are living in London without secure immigration status, despite more than half of them having been born in the UK.

Children who are undocumented may face problems accessing higher education, health care, opening bank accounts, and applying for driving licences, housing and jobs. The findings were condemned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as a “national disgrace”.

The study, commissioned by the mayor and undertaken by the University of Wolverhampton, estimated that there were around 107,000 undocumented children and 26,000 18- to 24-year-olds in London. Once an undocumented child turns 18, they face the threat of deportation to a country they may never have visited.

Undocumented people can include those who arrived in the UK with proper documentation but who stayed beyond their permitted time, those who entered without proper documentation, trafficked children, unaccompanied minors whose temporary leave to remain was withdrawn once they reached adulthood and young people born to parents who are themselves undocumented.

The research found that more than half of the UK’s estimated 674,000 undocumented adults and children live in London. It warns that the number of undocumented young people could rise dramatically if the estimated 350,000 young European nationals in the UK are not helped to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme that will enable them to remain after Brexit.

Assessing the size of Britain’s undocumented population is inevitably a challenging process, since there is no official data and it requires counting people outside most formal systems. Instead, the report has reviewed previous research and analysed all available data to come up with a conservative estimate. The study suggests that the population of undocumented migrant children has grown by 56% between March 2011 and March 2017.

The report highlights the high cost of regularising immigration status. “The Windrush scandal has exposed the barriers facing people who have lived in the UK for many years, including a complex application process, a lack of awareness of the system, cuts to legal aid and the high cost of applications – with the high court last month deeming as ‘unlawful’ a government decision to charge £1,012 to register children as British citizens,” the report states. “Since 2012, only 10% of families with undocumented children in the UK have applied to secure their immigration status.”

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to 100,000 children in London ‘without secure immigration status’

  1. Robert Addington says:

    What a mess. Those who want to curtail birthright citizenship in Canada should take note.

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