UNICEF news release on UK commitment to protecting rights of immigrant children

UNICEF Applauds UK Commitment to Protecting Rights of Immigrant Children

“NEW YORK, 22 September 2008 – UNICEF applauds the decision by the British government to grant children seeking asylum, migrant children, and those who have been trafficked into the UK the same rights as British children, including their right to education, health care and social services. The government also removed its reservation to article 37(c) on children in custody.

“The move, made over the weekend, signals the government’s full commitment to supporting children’s rights as laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The decision paves the way for vulnerable children who are subject to immigration control to enjoy the fundamental human rights spelled out in the Convention for every child, and to ensure that children who find themselves in trouble with the law are kept separate from adult prisoners”.

Child migration report by Save the Children, Sweden

Child Migration and the Construction of Vulnerability, Save the Children, Sweden, “attempts to look beyond the current emphasis of child migration (mainly trafficking of children for sexual purposes, unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugee children), to consider the broader context including when and why migration violates the rights of the child“.

First presented at the Focus on Children in Migration conference in Poland in 2007, the report demonstrates the need for more research on children and migration. As the introduction to the report says “Many reports are available on migration in general but rarely integrate the consequences of migration for children“.

Child rights situation analysis

Save the Children, Sweden have produced a toolkit for organizations interested in conducting what’s called a child rights situation analysis – or, a way to collect relevant information, identify key issues, establish priorities to enable an assessment of what action steps ought to be taken to improve the lives of children.

Featured in the resource is child rights program principles – CRP. CRP outlines the relationship between the rights holder and the duty bearer. The principles include:

Children’s right to have their best interests considered as a primary consideration in any decision-making which affects them

Children’s right to the maximum available resources for their survival and development

Children’s right to have their views heard in decision making when it affects their lives

Children’s rights to be protected against all forms of negative discrimination and to be positively discriminated against when at a disadvantage, relative to other children

The duty bearer is accountable to respect and for the protection and fulfillment of the rights of the child.

Read about and download the toolkit from the Child Rights Information Network.

Right to Play at the OPHEA conference

Right to Play will be presenting their curriculum Learning to Play, Playing to Learn at the Oct 17-18/08 Ontario Physical Health and Education Association (OPHEA) conference

It is heartening to see the description of the session highlighting the rights of the child:

“Activities feature an exploration of children around the world, the countries they live in and a study of our rights and responsibilities in the world community”.

Child Watch Column by Marian Wright Edelman (Children’s Defense Fund)

An excerpt of the Child Watch column of the Children’s Defense Fund, taken from the NAME listserv (National Association for Multicultural Education), posted Aug 22/08:

Immigration Enforcement: Raiding Children’s Dreams

“On May 12, 2008, teachers in Potsville, Iowa, interrupted their classes, called the names of some of their Latino students and directed them to report to the principal’s office. Usually, this would mean that they were in for punishment for some infraction. But these children had done nothing wrong. In the principal’s office, they were informed that one or in some cases, both of their parents would not be coming home because they had been taken into custody by federal law enforcement officers.

“Earlier that day, hundreds of helmeted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in combat gear, toting assault rifles, swooped down on the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in this town of about 3,000. With military precision, nearly 400 of the plant’s alleged undocumented immigrant workers were shackled and marched out of the slaughterhouse in single file and herded onto buses and vans. Those rounded up in the raid, one of the biggest in our nation’s history, were transported to detention facilities miles away. The raid not only economically devastated the town but also left in its trail hundreds of children wondering when or even if they would see their parents again. Postville was just one of a series of ICE raids in search of undocumented immigrants.

“According to a report by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, “Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children,” there are about five million children in the United States with at least one undocumented parent. The stepped-up ICE raids have put the children of these families at increased risk of separation, psychological distress and economic hardship. These raids have disrupted communities across the country and separated thousands of parents from their children. The majority of these children are American citizens who are integrated into the schools and communities of the only country they know. After the arrest or disappearance of their parents, children have experienced psychological duress and developed mental health problems including feelings of abandonment, separation anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The ‘Paying the Price’ report states that the raids affect children, who are “emotionally, financially and developmentally dependent on their parents’ care, protection and earnings.” Children and other family members left behind face serious and immediate economic hardships when the primary breadwinner has been hauled off into custody. The majority of the children affected are under the age of 10~many are infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Their immediate needs are for food, baby formula, diapers, clothing and other essentials. One of the great challenges for the communities where raids are carried out is to ensure that no child has been left behind in school, left at home without adult supervision or taken into foster care. Some children have been left in the care of teenagers or even babysitters for weeks and months at a time. Those who suffer the greatest harm in ICE raids are children. If our nation is to make any claim for humanity, children deserve to be protected and cared for when their parents are taken away.

Related links: 

The Children’s Defense Fund

Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children. 

The Right to Learn: Access to Public Education for Non-Status Immigrants (Community Social Planning Council of Toronto).

Baker v. Canada – 10 years later

July marks the tenth year anniversary of the Baker decision. A milestone in both immigrant and children’s rights, the Baker case addressed the rights of four Canadian-born children to have their immigrant mother remain with them on Canadian soil, despite her foreign citizenship, illegal status, and the deportation order to return to her home country.

The Court ruled that immigration officials should pay “close attention to the interests and needs of children, since children’s rights and attention to their interests are central humanitarian and compassionate values in Canadian society“.

Ten years after Baker v. Canada, where are we with regard to immigrant children’s rights?

While Canada has long struggled with its immigration policy, it can be argued that Canadians have been fairly consistent – at least recently – in the value they put on children. Canada is recognized on the world stage as a champion for children’s rights. Canada was the co-host for the World Summit for Children and in 1991 was among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention lays out the basic human rights to which all children are entitled: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harm; and to participate fully in family, culture and social life. Countries that are parties to the Convention are legally obligated to meet the standards set out in the Convention and the Convention applies to all children, everywhere. So in Canada, immigrant and refugee children have the same rights as Canadian-born children. So – does Canadian immigration policy line-up with the Convention? As part of the current immigration policy, the family reunification aspect has been seen as central and was recently cited as a key feature of our immigration policy.

The recent federal government budget bill – Bill C-50 – introduced major changes to immigration policy, with critics charging that that the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will have far-reaching powers to hand-select immigrants, fearing that the family reunification aspect of Canadian immigration policy would fall to the wayside, giving preference for skilled immigrants to fill the country’s labour needs. The emphasis – critics charge – would be on based on an immigrants ability to contribute economically, and that bringing families together will no longer be seen as a priority.

The Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth marks the 10th anniversary of Baker v. Canada by inviting Canadians to revisit Canada’s commitment to children as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children while considering the impact to children in the recent changes to Canadian immigration policy.

UNHCR on the best interests of the child

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCRC) have updated their 2006 Guidelines on Determining the Best Interests of the Child. From the announcement on the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN):

The principle of the best interests of the child has been the subject of extensive consideration in academic, operational and other circles. Legal documents relating to the protection of children, including those adopted by UNHCRs Executive Committee on children of concern to the Office, systematically refer to it.

How to apply this principle in practice, however, often remains challenging for UNHCR and its partners. Limited guidance is available on how to operationalise the best interests principle. UNHCR’s Guidelines on Determining the Best Interests of the Child are intended as one step to help fill this gap.

Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood annual conference

The Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood Annual Conference will be held Nov 13-15, 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. The conference theme is Honouring the Child, Honouring Equity 8: Young Citizen(s), New Citizenship(s). Key themes to be addressed include:

How are the possibilities for citizenship and for children being imagined and practiced in diverse contexts?

How can we transform relationships with children to create greater reciprocity and respect?

What are the local and global possibilities for enacting ethical citizenship processes and practices with young children?

What local and global and global linkages can inspire new possibilities for children’s citizenship(s)?

How do issues of diversity, difference and identity intersect with possibilities for honouring children, honouring equity?

Call for proposals closes July 16/08.

In Memoriam: Zelma Henderson, Brown v. Board of Education

Zelma Henderson, last surviving plaintiff of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, died last week in Kansas. While Brown v. Board of Education was not a challenge to the right to education for immigrant or refugee children, it remains a pivotal event in the rights of minority children to education in the US and elsewhere.  There are many news reports: search on “zelma henderson brown v. board of education” in google, for example. Also, visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic website.

OECD Thematic review of migrant education – an update

As posted Jan 22 on this blog, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development – the OECD – is undertaking a thematic review of migrant education.

The question being asked is ‘What policies will promote successful education outcomes for first and second generation migrants’? 

The objectives and outputs are based on criteria for the assessment of the successful integration into the education system, including pre-school education, which is threefold:

1. Access: Do immigrant students/children have the same opportunities to access quality education as their native-born peers?

2. Participation: Do immigrant students/children participate (enrol and complete) as much as their native-born peers?

3. Learning outcomes: Do immigrant students/children perform as well as their native-born peers?

An interesting project. Here’s the site.

Developing positive identities: Young children and diversity

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has released a resource on the theory and evidence of how identity can be impacted by adversity, discrimination and diversity in early childhood, entitled Developing Positive Identities: Young Children and Diversity.

This release is the latest in the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Early Childhood in Focus series. Earlier editions were Attachment Relationships: Quality of Care for Young Children and Early Childhood and Primary Education: Transitions in the Lives of Young Children