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Growing Up In A Hostile Environment:: The rights of undocumented migrant children in the UK

This report examines the ways in which lack of immigration status is an obstacle to children and young people accessing their basic rights and entitlements and the further difficulties this group face in obtaining essential legal advice and regularising their status. Undocumented migrant children are amongst the most vulnerable in the UK and the most at risk of exceptional poverty and destitution. While the importance of developing a more effective immigration system cannot be denied, such a system must go hand in hand with the UK’s human rights obligations to children.

All children in the UK have the same rights, irrespective of status, and the UK’s international and domestic legal obligations continue to apply regardless of a child’s circumstances or those of their parents. Lines of distinction should not be drawn between children based on their immigration status, nor on the reasons why they find themselves in or seeking to enter the UK. Whether seen in terms of protection and promotion of the rights of a vulnerable group or in terms of the social and economic benefits of ensuring children are able to develop, flourish and ultimately contribute to society, an immigration system that is effective but also treats the welfarfe of childrfen as the primary concern should be viewed as a practical necessity.