Dublin versus Dubs


Whilst the Home Secretary hails the arrival of 312 unaccompanied asylum seeking children as “a really good result”, the fact remains that domestic legislation allows for the UK to positively impact the lives of hundreds – even thousands – more children.

To explain, unaccompanied asylum seeking children can be brought to the UK under one of two systems. Firstly, the Family Reunification provisions of the Dublin III Regulations allow for asylum seekers who have family members who have already received international protection in another state to be transferred to join those family members and have their asylum claim determined by that country. This is rooted in EU asylum policy – meaning the Government has no choice but to comply with the legislation, and there is no limit to the number of children who can be brought to the UK.

On the other hand, the Dubs system of transfer allows for an unspecified number of unaccompanied children with or without family in the UK to be transferred into British care, providing that they arrived in Europe before 20th March 2016 and that it is deemed to be in the child’s “best interests” to be relocated. Thus, many children who may have been excluded from coming to the UK under the Dublin Regulations because they do not have family members in the UK, may now fall under the criteria of the Dubs amendment.

The two systems are not synonymous, but are often conflated. In the publication of quarterly immigration statistics and in the Home Secretary’s statements to the House of Commons, it is often unclear whether the children in question are being transferred under the Dubs amendment, or the Dublin Regulations. Such a failure to properly distinguish between these two systems makes it difficult to judge the extent to which the provisions of the Dubs amendment are being properly fulfilled. This, conveniently, enables the Government to disguise the number of children actually accepted under the Dubs system.

Furthermore, despite legislative apparatus being in place since May 2016, it was not until mid-October – a full five months after the passage of the Immigration Act – that the first child was brought to the UK under the Dubs system. Meanwhile, in the camp itself there has been a substantial human cost to this sluggish response. According to Help Refugees UK, since partial demolition of the camp began in February this year, 129 minors have gone missing. Countless more have fallen victim to traffickers, smugglers, road accidents and police brutality. This was entirely preventable, had the Home Office established the Dubs system sooner.

It is equally disturbing to consider that it was only with the imminent demolition of the ‘Jungle’ that the Government finally acted. However, that the camp was to be demolished by the end of 2016 has been common knowledge since February, and the power to bring children to the UK was granted in May. Yet, the Government didn’t act until October. The children in question should have been identified, registered and transferred long before the demolition began. Instead, over 100 unaccompanied minors were left sleeping rough amongst the ashes and debris of the camp in the immediate aftermath of the demolition.

Had the Home Office acted upon its obligations under the Dubs amendment “as soon as possible” – as the Act stated – the violence and trauma experienced by vulnerable children could have been avoided. It is chilling to consider how much longer British authorities would have dithered before acting under the obligations of Dubs had the demolition of the ‘Jungle’ taken place later.

We must ask ourselves, why did it take the closure of the camp itself to begin the process of transferring children – something which statute stipulated should have begun sooner? Whether or not one agrees with the specific provisions of the Dubs amendment, deliberate delay in the implementation of statute to fulfil the executive’s own skewed agenda reflects not just the current Government’s depraved and immoral stance on Europe’s migrant crisis, but is also emblematic of the worrying lack of effective controls on the power of the executive.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The problem is the definition of children.
    If we mean we will take anyone on the basis that they were once a child, and we aren’t actually too bothered about confirmation of age or rejecting those individuals that lie about their age, then we should say so.
    If we mean we will take x number of people who are currently children then we should do as we say.
    To do otherwise, say we are taking children and wave through a number of adults, increases disillusionment and anger with the government and E.U. and gives more credence to the far right argument that those people with genuine concerns re immigration are being patronised and ignored.

  • suzanne fletcher 21st Nov '16 - 10:07am

    Very good article Bradley, thanks. Got the facts and got the right response.
    there is more info here for anyone wanting more detail. http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/893
    @Taranis, I feel we often forget that it is human being we are talking about, all matter and we need to care about all, just as we live in the hope that others will care for us when we need it.
    The Dubs amendment was though about “children”, and these are defined as being those under 18 in the legislation. At that age they are not deemed responsible enough to vote, and not capable of signing a legal contract (such as a rent agreement), there will be other examples. Yet the Government is saying it will not accept any 16 and 17 year old’s.

  • suzanne fletcher 21st Nov '16 - 10:39am

    Those that want to do something can sign this petition for 1,000 children to be here by Christmas. Let us give them some hope for their dreams to be realised.

  • All for 16 / 17; all for adults in need.
    Dead against being told we are taking children only for that to be exploited by, admittedly desperate, adults and a duplicitous government. I am not actually one of the anti immigration bods, but neither do I appreciate being blatantly lied to by any group claiming to speak the truth, let alone my own government.

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