In an effort to clamp down on immigration, schools in England are requiring birth certificates be shown. The new policy has already come under fire from Human Rights groups, who are urging parents to boycott the new rules.
The new policies state that this data will be collected on every child from 2 to 19 in England. Human rights organizations are concerned that this information will be shared with immigration enforcement services, which have seen an increased amount of activity since the British government’s commitment to creating a hostile environment for immigrants who are undocumented.
Bella Sankey, Liberty policy director, said: “Such measures deter vulnerable children and families from accessing essential services and exercising their human rights in our communities.”
Damien Gayle, writing for The Guardian, notes that the Department for Education asserts that the information will not be given to the Home Office. The Department for Education says the information will be used to ensure that students get the best education possible.
Since 2012, however, many requests by both the police and the Home Office to receive national pupil database information were granted. Specifically, the police requested information 31 times and the Home Office did so 18 times.
In 2013, proposals for undocumented immigrants to be kept out of schools had to be abandoned. Ministers were afraid such proposals would violate international human rights laws, which brings into question the legality of the current legislation.
Gracie Mae Bradley, a member of Against Borders for Children, said “That creates a climate where half the class is being told you’ve got to bring in your passport and the other half haven’t. In a post-Brexit environment, kids are already precarious; they are already feeling like it’s not a good thing to be a migrant child and this further divides them.”
Over 20 lobbyists have written urging the Department for Education not to implement the data collection plan, writes Erika Sanger for the Sun. Justine Greening, the Secretary of Education, is receiving the lobbyist’s pleas, but whether she has responded has yet to be seen.
While revealing birth certificate information is not mandatory, many schools have misinterpreted the new policies and are now asking for passport numbers, specifically for non-white students. Some believe this represent a backslide towards the treatment of immigrants, which has seen recent years of progress.
The new policy and its potential to affect immigrants also puts new policies of dirty diaper collection in a bad light. Anglesey County trashmen are also asking to see birth certificates of children to ensure children are of the proper age as they believe most children are potty trained between the ages of two and three, but with current immigration worries, this may not be as innocent as it appears. With many opposing the policies already on various grounds of unfair treatment to certain children, it may only be a matter of time before unfair treatment of immigrants becomes a point of contention as well.
Proponents insist that requiring documentation is a simple measure of data collection:
“This information will be used to help us better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language, perform in terms of their broader education and to assess and monitor the scale and impact immigration may be having on the schools sector,” a spokesperson for the Department for Education said.