“As a relative newcomer, I have learned such a lot from people who have been fighting for migration justice for a decade or more.”
|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Daniel came to this country with his mother when he was three years old. The UK is the only place he has ever known, and he feels no less British than any of his other friends. But, like thousands of other children in the UK, he is being priced out of his rights by the Home Office.
‘I didn’t even know I was not British until my mother had to explain to me why I couldn’t go on the same school trips as my classmates. I didn’t understand at first and I didn’t think it was fair that I was left out. When my mother told me I wasn’t British, I felt sad.’ Daniel
Right to register
The British Nationality Act 1981 ensures that those children that grow up here (either UK-born or not), and feel just as British as their British-born friends, have rights to register as British citizens. The Home Office fee is currently hindering these rights.
Priced out of their rights
In 2007, the Home Office began charging more than the adminstrative cost for registration. Only £372 of the current fee represents the administrative cost. The remaining £640 is profit over and above that cost.
‘My mother saved what she could but sometimes she didn’t eat properly so she could do this. At the time we had some support from the council but my mother was not then permitted to work except unpaid as a volunteer with a charity. It has been really difficult for my mother.’
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid himself has admitted this is a “huge amount of money”. It excludes many children from British citizenship.
Another Windrush generation
‘Going to Wellbeck [College] will help me get into the Army, but I am worried that I won’t be able to go there if I am not first registered as British.’
This sort of exclusionary policy jeopardizes a child’s start in life and also undermines their future – their children won’t be recognised as British either. These children don’t know they’re not British, and are in danger of facing the same injustices and marginalisation as those who came to be known as the Windrush generation.
They too face being refused access to healthcare, employment, education, social assistance and housing. Worse still, they face being detained, removed from or even excluded from the country altogether.
The psychological implications of suddenly having to question your identity because you no longer feel accepted in the country you consider home, are huge.
Daniel wants to become an army officer. His application to register as a British citizen is still outstanding.
What we’re calling for
Children’s rights are not for the Home Office to block because of money. We need your help to tell them: no child should be prevented from securing their British citizenship. They must immediately act on the following:
- Remove any element of the registration fee over and above the actual cost of administration
- Exempt the entire fee in the case of children in local authority care
- Introduce a waiver of the fee in the case of any child who is unable to afford the administrative cost of registration
This campaign is being led by the Amnesty UK Children’s Human Rights Network