Pilot programmes were set up in June to run during the review period, charged with finding alternatives to detention. Their findings have yet to be made public but a document leaked in August suggested that the priority was boosting removal rates, rather than humanitarian considerations.Oh, noes! Those cunning, dastardly Conservatives outsmarted us!
Campaigners are worried. Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has provided legal advice to hundreds of families since 2001. Like other groups involved with refugees and asylum seekers, BID was invited to provide information to the review. Sarah Campbell, BID's research and policy manager, says: "The information available to us suggests that, at best, these pilots have been given inadequate attention by officials. At worst, they have been set up to fail by an agency which appears to have little desire to implement the government's commitment to ending child detention."It's all a plot against us!
A Home Office spokesman told me there is no information publicly available on the pilot schemes. He added that there would "always have to be some sort of detention".As anyone with a brain in their head, rather than someone operating on pure emotion, knows...
"The asylum system is a source of moral shame," Clegg said back in March. It was, he added, "a moral outrage" that 1,000 children had been imprisoned last year. In May immigration minister Damian Green joined in, saying he found it disturbing to see children locked up at Yarl's Wood: "That is one of the things that impels our policy."They said those things in opposition. And doubtless, they meant them.
What, did no-one press them on exactly what they proposed to do instead? Did you all just look this gift horse over until you got to the teeth, then thought 'No need, it'd just be pointless'?
But by August Green's tone had shifted. "I am bending over backwards to avoid the detention of children, but we are still not sure that if we said we would never detain a child even for a minute then we would effectively be able to remove families that had no right to be in this country."You see, now Green's in the grown-up's seat, he has to think in the grown-up way. And he's cottoned on to the concept that, without detention, you have to remove the families quickly. And he's opted - mostly - for that option.
So the Open Borders advocates are back to screaming futilely at anyone who'll listen, knowing that for most people, emotive though the idea of locking children up may be, it's not enough to have them agree to have their country flooded with yet more immigrants...
Amid this confusion and obfuscation one thing is clear, and that is that the powerful, substantial and growing lobby of professionals and campaigners will go on watching what happens to these families and do all in their power to prevent a continuation of the state-sponsored cruelty that so outraged Nick Clegg.Hey. if you want to waste your time, and your backers' money, who am I to stop you?