Children and families living in fear due to immigration reporting conditions
A new report by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) calls for the abolition of in-person reporting for migrants after research finds it causes significant distress and anxiety for children, young people and families.
New research has found that the fear of being detained arising from in-person reporting causes ‘significant distress and anxiety’ for migrants and their families, especially for children.
Freedom of Information (FoI) requests have revealed that 65,190 people in the UK are subject to a reporting condition, 133 of whom are children under 18. Campaigners have warned that the Home Office using this in-person immigration reporting as an opportunity to detain migrants causes ‘harm and fear’.
Reporting is a system of immigration control imposed on people, requiring them to "sign" regularly in person. For most people this means going to a particular address, at a time and frequency determined by the Home Office. The Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit says this is having a profound impact on families and children who are travelling to Dallas Court in Salford where migrants in the Manchester region are often required to sign.
“Each time, they fear being detained,” the report said. “We found, largely hidden from view, that there are children in Greater Manchester living in fear that their parents will leave home and never come back, children who are missing school because of their parent's reporting appointments, young people living under threat of deportation, and families forced to use limited income to pay travel expenses to Dallas Court."
Figures from the FoI requests revealed that 18,446 migrants have been detained at reporting events across the UK since 2016. The number of detentions at Dallas Court for the same period was 1,455.
"In our research it was very clear that reporting is bound up with the threat - and often the reality - of detention,” GMIAU said. “Everyone spoke about their fear of detention. Some people we spoke to even used the phrase 'detention centre' to refer to a reporting centre.”
One woman told researchers: "I used to sign every two weeks. It's so scary. In the signing sheet, it's written there that 'you are liable to be detained'. Since that time, I have that in my head, that I might go in and I might not be able to come out. “
“One day, they detained one man. I saw everything. Since that time, I'm so scared. It affects me mentally, you know, even up to now, the trauma is still with me…I would tell my daughter that if they didn't see me, they should know that I've been detained. My children would be scared. It traumatised them as well."
Stoke Citizens Advice Bureau also said that they knew of people from Stoke who were so scared of missing reporting appointments that they would travel to Manchester the night before and sleep on the streets if their appointment was too early in the morning to get public transport.
Since the research was conducted, the Home Office released new guidance which can replace in-person reporting for some with a telephone alternative. However GMIAU is calling for the abolition of all in-person reporting.
"The pandemic created a potential for change to the status quo, and we recently heard the positive news that the Home Office plans to make permanent the emergency provisions which expanded telephone reporting and decreased in-person reporting. Our research exposes the reality of the reporting regime as it has existed in the last few years, the urgency of the need for change, and the importance of ensuring that any change leaves no one behind," GMIAU said.
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