Immigration officials acted unlawfully in handling the case
21st April 2011: Immigration officials acted unlawfully in handling the case of a mother separated from her three children while she was detained for nearly a year, a High Court judge has ruled.
Justice Blair held the Jamaican national’s detention between May and September last year had become unreasonable and unlawful.
As the mother had served a jail sentence for drugs offences before being detained for immigration reasons, the children were in foster care.
The UK Border Agency took the decision to deport her and the three children, even though it was impossible for the social workers to assess the move’s impact on their welfare or her parenting ability as she was in detention
Justice Blair also took note of the concerns raised by the children’s commissioner for England on the inability to carry necessary parenting assessment checks, while she was being detained.
Two charities — the Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees — also expressed disapproval of the separation of families for immigration reasons.
In a joint statement, the charities said: "Our work with families separated by detention shows that children suffer severe consequences as a result of decisions to separate which do not take into account children’s best interests.
"Separating families, for the purpose of immigration control, is mentally and emotionally harmful to the young people involved."
A UKBA spokesman, on the other hand, said they were considering the court’s judgment and its implications carefully. The UKBA exercises its powers to detain those foreign nationals that have no right to remain in the UK in order to facilitate their removal.
They seek to ensure that powers to detain are exercised reasonably and lawfully, while maintaining effective immigration control.