The vast majority of migrants who lied about their age to get into the UK have been allowed to stay in the country. Meanwhile, actual infants and under 18s sleeping rough in makeshift camps around northern France remain barred.
There are immigrant children just a few months old living in woodland in France, in squalid camps in Greece, and in overwhelmed units in Italy. Despite this fact, Britain has accepted thousands of adults in their place.
Home Office records show that 2,644 adults were caught trying to enter Britain posing as ‘unaccompanied asylum seeking’ children from 2010 to 2016. However, just 580 of these people have been sent home.
This year alone, from January to September, 692 people whose date of birth was challenged by the Home Office turned out to be over 18, a Daily Express investigation found. It is not clear how old the men and women were, or how the British Government established their ages, but it has led to questions over the UK’s handling of the migrant crisis.
MPs and campaigners have criticized the government for its inability to ensure the most vulnerable are brought to the UK, as voted for in parliament, while adult refugees receive proper care across the European Union.
Tony Smith, former director general of UK Border Force, told the Express: “The number of asylum-seeking children coming to the UK is now close to record levels. While it is important we afford protection in the UK to vulnerable children, we cannot ignore the fact that more than half are found to be overage after a thorough assessment.”
The Tories have come under fire in recent months after promising to give homes to 3,000 children under the so-called Dubs amendment after MPs voted to accept the change put forward by Lord Alf Dubs in parliament.
However, after the Home Office invited the nation’s media to an immigration center to film child migrants arriving, there was national outcry. Many of those emerging from buses, which had come from Calais in northern France, appeared to be much older than they claimed.
The embarrassed government then decided to cap the number at 350, before adding another 150 spaces in the face of fierce opposition from the charity Help Refugees and a legal challenge.
Applications to live in Britain for unaccompanied minors from Calais were made by 1,006 males and 170 females in the last quarter of 2016. Some 575 of the 3,290 claimants in that year were discovered to be over age – 37 were removed from the UK.
The problem in Britain follows an announcement in Sweden that three quarters of child migrants who had to be tested to prove their age have also turned out to be adults. Dental analysis of 581 people found that 447 of them have been medically proven to be 18 years or older.
Tests were ordered on 4,200 asylum cases in the country after the Swedish Migration Board raised questions. Some migrants claim to be older than they are because rules are different for children and governments have a responsibility to care for minors.
Adult men are often left with nothing, while families are offered priority clothing, food and shelter. Many of the men are injured or suffering mental-health problems from war. Furious campaigns by right-wing groups have labelled them “fighting-aged men” despite many being in their late teens and early 20s, without money, family or a home to which to return.