Our immigration system ‘harms kids in state care’

A report being launched today claims that a “flawed immigration system” is harming migrant children, and in particular those in state care.

Our immigration system ‘harms kids in state care’

Child Migration Matters’ is published by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and was written by solicitor Katie Mannion.

It features 32 case studies based on the experiences of young migrants, including some who were trafficked to Europe as children, some who were stateless on arrival, and some seeking international protection.

According to the report: “Children are largely invisible in Ireland’s immigration system. Until 16, they are assumed to have the same immigration permission as their parent, but cannot access confirmation of this position.

“There is no legislation or guidance on the appropriate permissions to be granted to children. This lack of clarity results in inconsistency in the immigration permissions granted to children when they turn 16, even in identical circumstances.

“The immigration status and access to citizenship for children in care is not adequately addressed. Despite being in the care of the State, they are not automatically considered to be lawfully resident. Their immigration permission still depends on their parents.

“Children cannot easily access information or specialised legal advice about their immigration status. They are frequently unaware of their duty to register with GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) at 16 years, or their eligibility for naturalisation.”

Case studies highlight how a lack of identity documents and uncertain immigration status poses difficulties for young people in accessing third-level education and in his day-to-day interactions.

In the foreword, Professor Ursula Kilkelly of the School of Law at University College Cork said: “Beyond the individual stories, the research illustrates very effectively how, in the immigration setting, the right to control borders frequently trumps the rights of migrant children.”

She said Ireland is not unique in this but that “it is nonetheless disappointing that we care less for migrant children than we do for our own”.

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