In defiance of High Court, UK places asylum-seeker children in hotels
The UK Home Office continues to illegally place asylum-seeker children in hotels and claims it cannot handle the influx.
Despite the practice ruled illegal by the High Court, the UK Home Office has placed more than 100 lone asylum-seeker children in hotels in recent weeks, The Guardian reported on Friday.
After more than 200 children went missing, including dozens from one hotel in Brighton, human rights and refugee organizations have denounced the government's ongoing use of hotels.
One of the reasons why children are still being housed in hotels, some for many weeks, is Kent County Council claiming it cannot handle the influx of youngsters, as per the news website.
Due to Kent's geographical location, the council is obligated to care for lone children who come on the coast in tiny boats, but it has cautioned that it is struggling to satisfy its legal commitments to the UK, as well as to the children.
"It is with deep regret that, due to ever escalating arrivals, Kent County Council is once again in a position whereby it cannot meet both its statutory duties to accept all new unaccompanied child asylum-seeker arrivals, care for them safely and discharge all of its other duties towards vulnerable children and young people in Kent," Sue Chandler, cabinet member for children’s services at Kent county council, claimed.
Calls have arisen for the #HomeOffice to investigate this issue urgently and release any potential children held in adult jails, although the Home Office's own age assessments to classify these children as adults have been criticized as hasty and arbitrary.#UK #migrants pic.twitter.com/aKjRLxjCYK— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) September 1, 2023
As a result, the UK High Court found that the Home Office and Kent County Council have behaved illegally by failing to adequately care for these youngsters.
A High Court lawsuit requesting that the children be safeguarded is now underway, with the next hearing set for September the 15th. In a previous hearing, the court decided that the Home Office's use of hotel accommodations for minors was illegal.
The Kent County Council mentioned that it is responsible for 661 asylum-seeker children and 1,030 asylum-seeker care leavers.
The Home Office confirmed at a recent court hearing that as of August 15, there were 130 freshly arrived lone asylum-seeker youngsters in hotels, some of whom had been there since before 27 July. More than 100 youngsters are still missing from different hotels where they were put by the Office.
The legal challenge is being pursued by the charity Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) and Brighton and Hove City Council, which expressed concerns about the significant number of children who went missing from the hotel in its region.
"There is a serious possibility that a criminal offence is being committed by hotel owners contracted by the secretary of state to manage what are de facto unregistered children’s homes," the Brighton and Hove city council warned in arguments submitted to the court.
"It is shocking that a small charity like ours has had to pursue this case to end the unlawful practice of the home secretary and Kent county council which has meant thousands of children are denied care on the basis of their immigration status and too many remain missing at risk of significant harm as a result," Patricia Durr, the chief executive of ECPAT UK, pointed out, as quoted by The Guardian.
In an attempt to justify the UK government's illegal acts, a spokesperson said that "due to the rise in illegal Channel crossings, the government had no option but to accommodate young people in hotels on a temporary basis while placements with local authorities were found."
"We will continue to work at pace with Kent county council and local authorities across the UK to ensure unaccompanied children are provided with the crucial care placements they need," the spokesperson added.