15 MAY 2018
Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about refugee children and Lord Dubs amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
I understand your concern on this matter and I know the government position on the amendment is as below:
"The Government have been clear that when we leave the EU we will seek to maintain a close and effective arrangement, including practical co-operation with the EU and the member states on illegal migration and asylum. Combating illegal migration and having efficient and effective asylum systems will continue to be a priority on which we will work closely with our EU partners. As part of that arrangement, and subject to the negotiations, the UK will seek to agree with the EU a series of measures to enable unaccompanied children in the EU to join close family members in the UK or another EU member state, whichever is in their best interests. However, it is important to remember that any such agreement will require agreement and implementation by individual member states. After the outcome of the negotiations is known, we will bring forward the appropriate legislation as necessary."
You can view the full exchange here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-04-30/debates/8EB87728-0FFE-47BB-A2CA-26C1498F1548/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Bill#contribution-D83C662A-EBB4-43DA-9E72-E40FDD8F37D0
In addition, I hope the following information on this matter from the Home Office is reassuring:
Britain has a proud record of helping the most vulnerable children who are fleeing conflict and danger, and the Government is committed to upholding this fine tradition. That is why its response to the migrant crisis has been to establish resettlement schemes from the refugee camps in the region. This allows support to be targeted to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis, while not creating a strong incentive for refugees to undertake the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The UK has granted asylum or another form of leave to over 9,000 children in the past year, and over 42,000 since 2010.
In full accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, the Government has announced it will transfer the specified number of 480 children, who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision. This number includes over 200 children already transferred under section 67 from France. It does not however include children transferred to UK where they have close family here.
The Dubs amendment was never meant to be an open ended scheme. The legislation obliged the Government to consult local authorities on their capacity to care for and support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children before arriving at this number. Local authorities informed the Government that they had capacity for around 530 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children until the end of this financial year. Similarly the Government estimated that at least 50 of the family reunion cases transferred from France as part of the Calais clearance will require a local authority placement in cases where the family reunion does not work out.
The UK will continue to work closely with our European partners to meet its obligations under the Dublin regulation and accept responsibility for processing asylum claims where the UK is determined to be the responsible member state, ensuring that it is in their best interests to come here. But if the Dubs scheme is continued indefinitely the Government would be creating a semi-permanent scheme that would create an additional pull factor that will lead to more children taking the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and put more children in the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers.
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