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UASC Reform Programme - the next Section 9

Dialogical | 29.01.2007 20:37 | Anti-racism | Birmingham

UASC Reform Proposals to be published by the Home Office are a direct attack on the safety and welfare of unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Defend Migrant Children!

UASC Reform Programme - the next Section 9
The Government is intending to attack the services which care for young people seeking asylum in this country. It is also proposing to reduce their rights by changing the rules on discretionary leave. These are a very vulnerable group of young people, no more than 6,000 in total, who have sought safety in the U.K. They tend to be from countries where there is war and conflict. The Home Office is imminently expected to publish the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) Reform Proposals. Its key proposals are likely to be:

•A system of reception and dispersal for unaccompanied young people
•Separate and discriminatory support services for unaccompanied young people
•Cutting the costs of care services and placing more young people in substandard private accommodation
•Home Office commissioned Social Work Teams with Social Workers working with Immigration Officers
•Improved systems of surveillance and information sharing
•The use of x rays and dental checks as means of age assessment
•Planned returns of under 18’s and fast track deportations of 18 year olds

Welfare as a tool of immigration control
The Government is increasingly using welfare as a tool of immigration control. The Government has a issued a reservation to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child allowing it to breach this international human rights standard in its treatment of children subject to immigration control.

These reforms are trying to weaken the way in which young people under18 receive support under the Children’s Act 1989 and increase Home Office control over how Local Authorities provide care services. The Government believes that care services should have an ‘immigration focus’ and social workers should prepare young people for deportation. It is seeking to cut the funding and worsen the care available to UASC.

These reforms are happening at the same time that services are being improved for the majority of looked after children under its ‘Care Matters’ programme.

Protection not deportation
Asylum-seeking young people arrive in this country separated from their family and without anyone to care for them. Young people experience the same human rights abuses experienced by adults as well as child specific forms of persecution. Some young people may have experiences of trafficking, child soldiering or forced marriage. This vulnerable group needs extra measures for their protection but they are being treated as economic migrants to deported as soon as they reach 18 and if possible before.

What should be done?
These new reforms will entrench the ‘separate and different treatment’ of black children and will further institutionalize racism within the welfare state. The UASC Reform Programme should be a major campaigning issue for 2007. The opposition to Section 9 provides an example of successful campaign of united action by UNISON Branches and Community based organisations putting pressure on local authorities in the pilot areas.

Produced by Birmingham and Black Country Social Work Manifesto Network. We can be contacted at:

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