The Home Office faces legal action over its policies for housing migrants amid allegations that children as young as eight are being unlawfully detained for up to 10 days.
Charities have voiced growing concern at the treatment of unaccompanied children who are being detained for up to 10 days in a Kent intake unit before being transferred to hotels hired by the Home Office to house them.
“We think this practice is unlawful and the Home Office is routinely detaining hundreds of children unlawfully at the border,” said Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action.
“The intake unit is very small and the conditions are incredibly cramped. Last week there were more than 50 women and children being held in a unit that was not fit for housing that many people.”
The charity will this week seek a judicial review against the Home Office on the basis that holding children in this way breaches the 2014 immigration act which makes it illegal to detain children for more than 24 hours.
It is also taking action against Kent County Council for allegedly breaching its duties by refusing to take any more unaccompanied migrant children on the basis that it does not have the capacity to do so.
The surge in migrants and Kent’s decision has created a bottleneck with dozens of children stuck in hotels because the Home Office is struggling to find other councils to take them.
The charities say the Home Office’s failure to make the transfer of migrants to councils mandatory is the key reason why they have a “bottleneck.”
They say the Home Office has the powers to make it mandatory and Parliament gave the green light to this in the Immigration Act 2016.