On Wednesday 4th November 2020 the House of Commons considered an amendment made to the Government’s Immigration Bill in the House of Lords.
The amendment, secured by Lord Dubs, seeks to continue the existing Dublin III legal pathway for unaccompanied child refugees and family reunification. This will no longer apply to the UK after the UK-EU transition period ends on 31 December.
The Government has said that it is seeking to negotiate a new agreement with the EU for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. However, the European Commission does not yet have a mandate from the EU’s member states to enter into negotiations with the UK on this issue.
According to Safe Passage, 95% of the young people and children it has supported through the Dublin III legal pathway would be unlikely to qualify under the UK’s Immigration Rules alone. I do not believe the welfare and rights of child refugees should rest precariously on the Government’s seemingly stagnant negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Instead of accepting Lord Dubs’ amendment, the Government proposed to undertake a review of safe and legal routes available to those who have grounds to seek asylum in the UK. While a review is of course welcome, this does not go as far the commitment in Lord Dubs’ amendment.
I therefore voted to retain Lords Dubs’ amendment. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected by Government MPs and removed from the Bill by 333 votes to 264.