RCC members hold the following fundamental and shared positions on matters relating to refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children:
Children in the immigration and asylum process should be kept safe and their rights as children should be upheld regardless of their immigration status, nationality or their parent’s status.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the associated committee’s general comments should inform the policies and practice of the immigration system in the UK.
The Home Office must comply with its proactive duty under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK.
The government should develop and implement a strategy for all migrant children and young people to ensure that their protection, development, integration and best interests are protected, and this should be led by the Department responsible for safeguarding and protecting all children.
All children, young people and families must have equal access to all public services including free primary and secondary health care when they need it, regardless of their immigration status.
All refugee and migrant children, regardless of the outcome of their claim, must be able to attend mainstream education, if it is in their best interests, and given the support they need in order to thrive. This includes supporting them to progress into higher education where this is their ambition.
The government must end the use of forced destitution and homelessness policies and enable all children and families who have international protection needs or cannot leave the UK to access employment, cash-based support and housing to ensure children’s welfare is promoted. Children should not be forced into poverty as a result of immigration or enforcement policy.
Children should not be separated from their parents for the purposes of immigration control and force should not be used on children and families to affect an enforced removal.
Children should not be detained for the purposes of immigration control and authorities should ensure that alternative enforcement measures do not harm children’s health and welfare.
Children must not be returned to countries or circumstances where they would be unsafe or at risk of harm. Return should only otherwise happen following a fair and efficient examination of children and families asylum or immigration claims where children’s best interests should be integral to any decision to return.
All children and young people should have effective access to justice through the provision of civil legal aid including to resolve their immigration problems, when they need it and regardless of their residence or immigration status.
Children and young people seeking protection need to be provided with a durable solution. This must be based on an individual assessment of each child’s best interests that takes into account the child’s views, needs and concerns, their immediate safety as well as their long term best interests.
The government should introduce a system of independent legal guardianship for all separated children, including victims of trafficking and exploitation, from the moment they come into contact with any authority until a durable solution is reached.