According to recently released data from the UK Home Office, the number of child migrants who have lied about their age has surged by three times in the past year. Between Sept. 2020 and 2021, there were 1,696 instances where the age of a migrant was questioned.
It was later found out that 1,118 of these migrants were aged 18 or older, which represents 66 percent of the applications. In the previous year, only 47 percent of applicants were found to have lied about being minors.
Registering as an unaccompanied minor not only speeds up asylum applications but also accords greater protections for the individuals against expulsion from the UK. Between Sept. 2019 and 2020, there were only 320 such applications. This year’s application numbers are the highest since 2006.
According to Migration Watch, smugglers encourage adult migrants, with child-like appearances, to destroy their personal documents and pose as minors. The practice is a serious risk to other children who share accommodation with such adults who are granted the title of minors.
At present, only migrants who appear older than 25 are classified as adults, which means that anyone who appears below the age can easily pass through as a minor. Migration Watch has asked the government to toughen up the rules on minor migration as well as institute strong punishments for migrants who destroy their documentation.
“It is deeply disturbing that the asylum system is so open to abuse that adults claiming to be children can be given the benefit of the doubt and be placed among minors in both accommodation and schools… The risks to the safety of our children are obvious. It is high time the Government stopped pandering to the immigration industry and dealt with adult migrants as such and not as what they claim to be,” Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, told The Telegraph.
There have been several instances of adult migrants in the UK caught posing as minors and mixing with children. In 2018, a boy who had sought asylum in the country and later joined a high school was found to be a grown man. The individual had been a student at a university in Iran, with his Facebook account showing pictures of him sporting heavy stubble and a moustache. Another pic showed him drinking beer.
In 2017, an Iraqi man who posed as a 16-year-old to enter the UK set off a bomb at the London Tube train, causing 23 people to be injured. He was jailed for 34 years. In another incident, a bald man in his forties surprisingly gained entry to a school. He was only removed after complaints from parents.