Britain is failing to abide by its legal duty to protect the rights of children and is trapping immigrants in a traumatic legal limbo, campaigners have said.
In a briefing for parliament intended to drum up opposition to the immigration bill, Coram Children’s Legal Centre said the welfare of undocumented children was regularly being put at risk.
"Over half of the estimated 120,000 undocumented migrant children in the UK were born here. Many have lived here for their entire childhood," Kamena Dorling, policy and programmes manager at the centre said.
"Despite having strong legal claims to remain in the country and being long-term residents of our communities, in practice they are left in a precarious situation without access to basic social rights."
Campaigners are concerned that children are trapped in a legal limbo – unable to pursue their claims because of the removal of legal aid for immigration cases, lacking quality legal advice and facing soaring application fees and poor-quality decision-making by the Home Office.
Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather is hosting the group in parliament as they try to apply pressure on MPs ahead of the immigration bill, which could make accommodation for undocumented children unreliable.
"The UK is a signatory to the UNCRC [United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child] and the rights of children must be respected regardless of their immigration status.
However, this report shows that current immigration policies are having a damaging impact on a group of very vulnerable children," Teather said.
"Instead of addressing this and supporting them, the government's current proposals risk making the UK an even more hostile place for them to grown up in."
The bill is highly likely to become law, with Labour lending its support to the coalition proposals.