I echo Bella’s concerns. Obviously, the Children’s Society is particularly concerned about children and young people and their families. According to Migration Observatory figures, there are 900,000 children in non-Irish EU families in the UK. That is a significant proportion of the population, and more have come since then. More than half those children were born here, and some may be British citizens, although there are some discrepancies between those who have actually registered their citizenship and those who will need settled status.
We emphasise to the Committee that although some children will be able to get settled status through the EU settlement scheme, citizenship would be in the best interests of many of them. It will be important to consider that throughout the Bill.
We also have concerns about those who will not be able to regularise their status after Britain leaves the EU, and those who arrive after that. We work with many children, young people and families across the country who are currently subject to migration controls. Our experience of that is that children face significant difficulties in making sure that their welfare, safety and long-term outcomes are protected. We fear that a greater number of children will be subjected to that process.
There is an opportunity here to put right some of the challenges in the current immigration system. We urge Committee members to look at some of those opportunities.