Bail for Immigrant Detainees (BID) condemned the Government with accusations echoing those against Donald Trump’s immigration policy which saw 2,000 children detained at the Mexico border after they tried to cross into the US illegally.
BID took to Twitter to condemn the UK Government to its followers and claimed to have provided legal advice to approximately 170 cases.
It said: “Parents are routinely separated from their children through immigration detention in the UK.
“The Home Office doesn’t release stats about the numbers of parents detained. BID’s Separated Families project provides legal advice to about 170 parents per year on how to get released.”
Nicholas Beales, the charity’s legal manager, said youngsters are generally placed with another parent or guardian when a parent is taken away and placed into immigration detention.
He spoke of the “devastating” effect this had on the children, who he said suffer bed-wetting, panic attacks and altered behaviour as a direct result of the detention of their parents.
Mr Beales said: “You can’t overstate what kind of damage it does.”
BID claimed parents are removed from their children for unknown periods of time along with the added threat of being sent back to a country thousands of miles away.
Express.co.uk took BID’s claim to the UK Home Office, who denied the Government detained or separated families in a similar manner to the US, before bizarrely adding they do in “exceptional circumstances” only.
When pressed for details on what these details were, a Home Office spokesman refused to provide any additional information.
Children and families are separated in exceptional circumstances
Images and videos of children screaming out for their parents have horrified viewers around the world, including Prime Minister Theresa May.
Mrs May told the Commons during PMQs last month: “The pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing.
“This is wrong, this is not something we agree with, this is not the United Kingdom’s approach. Indeed, when I was home secretary, I ended the routine detention of families with children.”
The Home Office regulations state children are neither split up from their parents nor put into detention centres for immigration purposes.
Yet a Home Office spokesman confirmed there were “exceptional circumstances” in which children are separated.
He said: “Children and families are separated in exceptional circumstances.”
The director of BID Celia Clarke told The Guardian: “What has been happening in the United States with families arriving at the border being forcibly separated is utterly reprehensible.
“But in the UK we do not have the moral high ground. Our government has been separating parents from their children for the purposes of immigration control for years. Parents are detained with no time limit on that detention and no automatic legal representation, leaving their children in the community.
“The impact of this is devastating and long-lasting. Children of parents we have supported regressed, developed behavioural difficulties and suffered from night terrors. The enduring legacy was a constant fear that their parent or parents might be taken from them again.”
Four of those children belong to Kenneth Oranyendu, who was detained after dropping his kids off at school in March.
Theresa May CONDEMNS Donald Trump’s treatment of migrants
He reported to the Home Office as instructed, but was detained and then referred to a detention centre 200 miles away.
His children, all British citizens and aged between six and 17, were placed into care as his wife was Nigeria for her father’s funeral.
He told Sky News: “I said I have nobody. It’s only me. They still detained me.”
The family have since been reunited since the 45-year-old father has been released on bail.
He is still required to report to the Home Office every two weeks but says his children have been traumatised by the separation.
Mr Oranyendu said: ”Every time I go out of the house they are afraid I’m not going to come back.
“They are terrified we will abandon them, and suffer from panic attacks. They wake in the middle of the night to check if their mum and dad are still there.”
Mr Oranyedu has a conviction for drug smuggling, which he denies, and was detained after he served his sentence.
The Home Office said that because of his status as a “foreign national offender”, protecting the public and preventing crime were taken into consideration.
BID claims to have letters written by children who have been separated from their parents.
One reads: “I miss my mum because she is not there to make me to school.”
It continues: “I love my mum so much please consider my letter.”
The Government’s guidance says children must not be separated from both parents for immigration purposes and advises that the decision to detain any parent should be “necessary and proportionate” with the children’s wellbeing in mind.
BID says the Government’s guidance only amounts to “little more than a tick box exercise” and that there is little consideration for the impact on the child.
Mr Beales said: “It’s just the casual cruelty – the uncertainty of what’s going on to happen.”