They Are Children Too: a study of Europe’s deportation policies

Liz Fekete shows how unaccompanied minors, children in families of asylum seekers and those whose parents are without the requisite papers, are being damaged by harsh target-driven deportation systems.

The young people may be sick, traumatised, separated from family members, about to sit exams or still breast-fed, but they are all considered unwanted illegals first and vulnerable children second. Pulling together evidence from 150 cases involving arrest, deportation, detention and destitution from a range of European NGOs and professionals, the report from the IRR’s European Race Audit reminds us what governments have forgotten: that ‘they are children too’.

It is an understanding that some new, popular forces in Europe already have. For, according to Liz Fekete, there are two Europes today. The bureaucratic, heartless, vicious Europe (which seizes children on their way to school, terrorises them in police raids, renders them destitute, incarcerates and deports them) is gradually being counterbalanced by a second Europe of ordinary people, ‘acting in defiance of the law and with great courage, reminding governments what humanitarianism and social solidarity mean in practice’. Parents are hiding foreign children, schoolchildren are campaigning for their friends, faith organisations, doctors, social workers, teachers and child protection agencies are all calling authorities to account.

Related links

Liz Fekete’s earlier report, The Deportation Machine (2005), investigated how the EU’s target-driven policy on asylum seekers was impacting on human rights.


By Liz Fekete. A4, 69pp., ISBN 0 85001 067 5, 2007.