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Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton

Case law, legislation and policies concerning migrant and refugee children have on the whole developed positively in the United Kingdom, particularly since the withdrawal in 2009 of its immigration reservations against the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In practice, however, the implementation of these standards and responsibilities has been undermined by the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to border control measures, restrictions on access to justice and legal aid. Laws intended to enable the admission of asylum-seeking children to the United Kingdom from continental Europe, including for family reunion, have been dilatory. A sceptical, contingent approach to child refugee status determination leaves children in a position of temporary rather than enduring protection. This approach conflicts with the rights, needs and interests of migrant and refugee children living in or seeking to enter the United Kingdom, who now also face an increasingly uncertain future as the United Kingdom embarks on the process to leave the European Union following the ‘Brexit’ referendum result in 2016.