Ahead of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November 2016, PICUM launches a collection of testimonies, which highlights the challenges faced by children and young people considered irregular or undocumented migrants and the strength it takes to overcome them day by day.
Migrant children are often treated as adults, rather than individuals with agency and rights of their own. Their rights as a child and best interests are very rarely considered, and they are not heard in immigration and asylum proceedings. If children are irregular or undocumented migrants, they can be prevented from accessing essential services, including education and health care. They also face arrest, detention and deportation.
As states continue to adopt ever more restrictive policies, the direct consequences will be felt by children. We can also expect to see an increase in the number of undocumented children in Europe. A significant proportion of those who have arrived in recent months and years will have their applications refused, but not all will return or be forcibly removed, regardless of the current political will to do so. Regular ways to come to Europe, such as family reunification, remain limited. The increasing barriers to access protection will push more children, young people and families into precarious and irregular residence.
Bringing together a range of individual stories and testimonies in different formats, from around Europe, the booklet presents personal perspectives on some of the pervasive impacts that immigration control measures can have on the well-being and development of children and young people. It also gives a platform to their voices and resilience. The creativity and participation of undocumented children and young people should be recognised and supported through urgent reforms in policy and practice.