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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Tuesday 19 February

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Home Office in the media

Today's Home Office stories include further coverage of Shamima Begum and returnees, migrants crossing the Channel and immigration policy.

Shamima Begum and returnees

There continues to be front-page coverage of the case of Shamima Begum following an interview she has given to the BBC.

Much of the coverage (Sun, Express and Star frontpages) focuses on comments the 19-year-old made about the Manchester Arena bomb attack which she said was “justified”. Although she said it was "wrong that innocent people got killed", the papers report that her comments provoked anger as she compared the atrocity to “women and children” bombed in Daesh-held territory.

The Telegraph questions whether the 650-year-old law of treason could be used against returning jihadists. The paper reports on comments the Home Secretary made that the ancient law may be re-written to make it easier to prosecute returning jihadists. Sajid Javid said that the idea of updating the legislation to catch home-grown extremists is "worth looking at carefully" amid concerns too many jihadists and their brides escape prosecution after returning to Britain.

The Times reports that Theresa May has rejected calls from Donald Trump to take back Daesh fighters. This comes after the President said European nations should ‘step up’ and repatriate more than 800 Daesh fighters. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson noted prosecutions normally take place in the country where a crime is committed.

Channel rescuers pick up 34 migrants

There is widespread coverage of the 34 migrants picked up in the Channel yesterday morning. The Times reports that two lifeboats were called to rescue a small vessel after its engine failed. Those on board were taken aboard the HMC Vigilant before being brought ashore. Three men were arrested for immigration offences.

The Telegraph highlights that this is the most people seized from a single vessel and is double the previous record of 17, seized in November. The Daily Mail reports that women and children as young as six were on board this boat, while The Times highlights calls for plans to monitor the south coast.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Yesterday Border Force responded to an incident in the Channel involving a small boat containing 34 people. The group were brought to Dover and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December we have tripled the number of cutters operating in the Channel, agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

The number of individuals attempting to cross the Channel decreased from around 250 in December to around 90 in January, with roughly half of the January attempts being intercepted by partners in France before they could make it to British waters.

Immigration policy and child poverty

The Independent reports that the Government has been accused of prioritising its immigration policies over children’s rights after it emerged UK-born children are being left homeless due to the immigration status of their parents.

Thousands of youngsters are living in extreme poverty as councils deny support to parents, who under Home Office rules, have no access to welfare benefits because they are subject to immigration controls, according to a report by the charity Project 17.

It claims that local authorities are obliged under Section 17 of the Children’s Act to safeguard and promote the welfare of children ‘in need’.

The charity found that some children – many of whom had been born in the UK – had been forced to sleep in churches, on buses or in A&E departments.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The welfare of children is one of our top priorities and our immigration system will always protect families with children from becoming destitute.

Support will never be withheld if the welfare of a child is at risk due to a family’s financial circumstances.

We also work closely with local authorities to assist them with applications for support from migrants, helping to reduce the financial burden placed on local authorities and ensuring applications for Leave to Remain are assessed promptly.

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