Kent threatens Home Office with legal action over unaccompanied migrant children | Immigration and asylum
Kent County Council has taken legal action against the Home Secretary as he warns its services for unaccompanied migrant children are at breaking point for the second time in less than a year.
The authority said it may no longer be able to accept new unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) within days and served a formal letter before acting on the ministry. ‘Interior.
Kent has nearly double the number of UASCs supported, according to the government, the council said.
The move follows an announcement by the council last August that it had reached its capacity to deal with UASCs arriving on its shores despite efforts to work with the Home Office and other local authorities.
The council has taken the first legal steps to implement a long-term solution to prevent the crisis from happening again.
The proposed judicial review asks Home Secretary Priti Patel to use existing powers to order local authorities other than Kent to receive their fair share of UASCs.
Kent’s director of children’s services informed the council chief that the pace of arrivals and the pressure on care services will likely mean he will no longer be able to safely accept new UASC arrivals before the end of this week.
The Border Force will then be invited to place the new arrivals directly in other local authorities in the country, as they did for three months last year.
Kent Council Leader Roger Gough said: âI am deeply saddened that we are now seeing a repeat of the same crisis of nine months ago.
âWhile there have been a number of welcome steps from the governmentâ¦ we have not seen what is most needed: a strong national transfer program [NTS] which keeps port authorities such as Kent from under unmanageable pressure.
âThe Home Office consulted on changes to the NTS in August and September of last year and has yet to release any new proposals or response to the consultation.
âThe scheme remains voluntary with insufficient incentive for other UK local authorities to relocate UASCs from Kent.
âWe need to make sure that all UK local authorities with capacity share the support of these children. “
The Home Office said: âThose who try to cheat the system place an unfair burden on the taxpayer and prevent genuine asylum seekers from getting help.
âThis is why the government is presenting the new immigration plan which will allow us to welcome the most disadvantaged through secure and legal channels, while avoiding abuse of the system.
âWe recognize the long-standing role Kent County Council has played in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and are extremely grateful for their contribution.
âWe continue to encourage more regions to join the NTS and do their part.
“We have already consulted on how to improve the regime to make it fairer – the results of which will be published very soon.”
The council said that in the absence of any substantial response from the Home Office to his proposal by June 17, it would proceed with a judicial review application against the Home Secretary.