Undocumented Migrant Children in the UK

Aims and Objectives

Many EU countries are experiencing record levels of unauthorized migration. A significant proportion of these migrants are children —that is, persons under the age of 18. While there is broad recognition of the importance of protecting children in mainstream public policy, governments face the challenge of how to comply with their international obligation and address the protection needs of this specific group of children.

This project aimed to advance knowledge on the experiences and everyday lives of irregular migrant children in the United Kingdom, to cast light on the challenges facing the communities in which they reside and to explore services and resources available to them in particular in relation to health, education and employment. It examined the ways in which, in the experiences of irregular migrant children, the lack of legal status intersects with gender, age, country of origin and other social factors, as well as the challenges faced by service providers in relation to this group of children.

The target population included unaccompanied migrant children; children who have migrated with or come to join close family members, and children who are born in the UK to irregular migrant parents.

Background

This project, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, is part of a comparative project on irregular migrant children in the United States and the United Kingdom carried out in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Methods

The project used a multi-method approach to create a comprehensive picture of undocumented migrant children’s lives in the UK and the challenges this group of children pose to service providers, in particular in relation to health, education and employment.

The first phase reviewed the existing legislative and policy frameworks in the target countries as well as available empirical research and data on undocumented children and their access to education and health care.  It also involved consultation with experts and institutions working with undocumented children on the ground. The second phase consisted of empirical research, including structured and semi-structured interviews as well as field observation. The third and final phase identified potential implications for policy which are now being disseminated through publications and meetings with policy makers, service providers, and others concerned with the situation of undocumented minors.

The project relies on the valuable contribution of a number of community based and advocacy organisations. The roles of partner organisations includes: to support the research team during fieldwork and help to establish links with relevant communities; provide logistical support for meetings and interviews; offer feedback on the interim report and other project material; help the research to explore the policy implications of the project and disseminate the research findings within their networks.

Outputs

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Dr Nando Sigona, COMPAS
nando.sigona@compas.ox.ac.uk

Research Officer

Vanessa Hughes, COMPAS
vanessa.hughes@compas.ox.ac.uk

Fieldworkers

Ayo Audu; Clotilde Giner;  Janroj Keles; Tom Lam; Ana Souza; Inayat Pashtoonmal; Clara Straimer; Nina Perkowski

Funder
Barrow Cadbury Trust

UMC project in the media

Media

'Good things and small packages', The Economist, 19 May, 2012

'Children 'with no state' in UK', BBC News, 5 November, 2012

'120,000 children living in UK face destitution, says charity', The Guardian, 5 July, 2012

Immigration rules leave thousands of children destitute, Children & Young People Now, 15 May, 2012

Immigration rules leave thousands of children destitute, Oxford University finds - See more at: www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073257/immigration-rules-leave-thousands-children-destitute-university-oxford

Immigration rules leave thousands of children destitute, Oxford University finds - See more at: www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073257/immigration-rules-leave-thousands-children-destitute-university-oxford

Immigration rules leave thousands of children destitute, Oxford University finds - See more at: www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073257/immigration-rules-leave-thousands-children-destitute-university-oxford

Immigration rules leave thousands of children destitute, Oxford University finds - See more at: www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073257/immigration-rules-leave-thousands-children-destitute-university-oxford

Undoc camp helps thousands of children with immigration uncertainty, Metro, 13 September, 2012

Current UK Immigration Policies Leaving Thousands of Children Destitute, UK Immigration Barristers, 21 May, 2012

What future for the children of irregular migrants?, The New Londoners, 8 November 2012

Experts concerned about migrant children, New Europe, 27 February

Crackdown on 'education tourists' to target illegal immigrant children, Mail Online, 28 March, 2013

 

Use of the report by charities and other organizations

Celebrating International Youth Day by helping young migrants thrive, The Children's Society, 12 August, 2013

Growing Up In A Hostile Environment: The rights of undocumented migrant children in the UK, Children's Legal Centre

Undocumented migrant children and their families face major barriers to access services in Europe, PICUM

120000 migrant children fall through the net, Migrants' Rights Network, 28 May, 2012

Members’ Manifesto – Refugees and Migrants Overview, Children England, 29 November, 2013

The Inclusion of Migrants and the Role of Diaconal Social Services, Eurodiaconia

There are no easy solutions to undocumented migration, Left Foot Forward, August 1, 2013

Human Rights of Unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK, Joint Committee on Human Rights, UK Parliament.

Illegal immigration in the United Kingdom, Wikipedia entry

Research Team
Dr Nando Sigona
Vanessa Hughes

Fieldworkers
Ayodeji Audu
Clotilde Giner
Janroj Keles
Tom Lam
Inayat Pashtoonmal
Dr Ana Souza
Clara Straimer
Nina Perkowski

Partner Organisations
ASIRT
Casa do Brasil
Maheen Project
CIAC
FPWP Hibiscus

Project Advisory Board
Prof. Bridget Anderson, COMPAS, University of Oxford
Prof. Alice Bloch, City University, London
Juan Camilo, Migrants' Rights Network
Dr. Myriam Cherti, IPPR
Prof. Heaven Crawley, Swansea University
Carla Garnelas, Children's Rights Alliance for England
Dr. Ben Gidley, COMPAS, University of Oxford
Dr. Patricia Hynes
Dave Newall, West Midlands Strategic Partnership for Asylum and Refugee Support
Prof. Julia O'Connell Davidson, Nottingham University
Ilona Pinter, Policy Advisor, The Children's Society
Ayesha Saran, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Sarah Spencer, COMPAS, University of Oxford
Susan Wright