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New academic research finds government's approach to Article 8 is causing emotional damage to British family members

Date of Publication: 
10 January 2018
Summary: 

University of Bristol examines how a precarious immigration status impacts on family life

New academic research finds government's approach to Article 8 is causing emotional damage to British family members

10 January 2018
EIN

New research published yesterday by the University of Bristol looks at how a precarious immigration status impacts on family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The research project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by the University of Bristol's Dr Melanie Griffiths.

Over the past four years, researchers followed 30 families consisting of foreign national men at risk of deportation for a variety of reasons and their British or European partners and children who were exempt from British immigration controls.

The research found that immigration insecurity and enforcement harmed the whole family, including British citizens.

Separation due to fathers being held in immigration detention was found to cause financial and emotional damage to all family members. Children were found to be at risk of developing mental health, behavioural and educational problems, including anxiety, depression and attachment difficulties.

Dr Melanie Griffiths said: "Immigration enforcement not only harms non-citizens but it indirectly affects the hundreds of thousands of Brits who are connected to 'detainable' people by friendship, love or blood."

In light of the research's findings, Griffith said the Government should reverse the changes made to the Immigration Rules in 2012 which reduced the scope for foreign nationals to prevent their removal from the UK on the basis that this would breach their right to family life under Article 8.

The then Home Secretary Theresa May said she was changing the rules "so that we can end the abuse of the right to a family life" and ensure Article 8 can only prevent deportation in "rare and exceptional" cases.

Dr Melanie Griffiths says this approach is "causing considerable collateral damage to families and children, including [the UK's] own citizens."

A 4-page briefing on the University of Bristol's findings can be read here.

The briefing also raises concerns over the availability of legal advice and it states: "Legal advice and representation (of good quality) are increasingly essential for navigating the immigration system but increasingly unobtainable. Legal aid cuts result in unrepresented appellants at deportation and human rights appeals, with significant costs to court time and judicial fairness."

The briefing recommends that barriers to legal advice and representation must be must be tackled, including by making legal aid available for human rights and immigration enforcement challenges.

Further short briefings resulting from the University of Bristol's research are available on the Detention of fathers in the immigration system and on Deporting High Harm foreign criminals: Operation Nexus.