Ask Full Fact: 'Dubs' and 'Dublin'

9 February 2017

Q: This is something to do with refugees, isn’t it?

A: Yes. Rules called the ‘Dublin regulation’ and ‘Dubs amendment’ are an important part of the government’s response to the migration crisis in Calais and across Europe.

Q: But they’re separate things?

A: Entirely.

‘Dublin’ is the name given to a European Union law, Regulation (EU) No 604/2013. It’s named after the capital of Ireland, where the original version of the rules was signed in 1990. Sometimes people call it Dublin III, because that original agreement has been replaced twice since then.

The ‘Dubs’ amendment is what people are calling section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, which is a UK law. Alfred Dubs, a member of the House of Lords, pushed for the draft law to be amended and was ultimately successful. The law was passed in May 2016.

Q: Good for him. What does his amendment do?

A: Perhaps unusually for legislation, you get the idea from reading it:

The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.”

The government could decide on the “specified number” after consulting with local councils, but it had to be in addition to any Syrian children resettled in the UK under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Ministers have also said that only children who were in Europe before 20 March 2016 would be considered, so as not to incentivise others from making the journey from Africa or the Middle East.

Q: So how many unaccompanied refugee children are we taking because of it?

A: That wasn’t decided until February 2017. The government announced that the “specified number” of children accepted under the Dubs amendment would be 350. 

Media reports suggest that the first group of refugee children accepted because of the Dubs amendment arrived in the UK in October 2016, although the government says that a small number arrived between May and September.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said on 9 February that over 200 children had arrived in the UK since then. That leaves another 150 to come.

All told, 900 children have already arrived under the Dubs amendment and the Dublin regulation.

Q: And the Dublin regulation is also about child refugees?

A: It’s a lot less specific. The Dublin regulation sets out rules for deciding on which EU country should process a claim for asylum. Generally that’s the first country the asylum seeker enters, but there are exceptions where he or she has relatives living elsewhere.

That means that some children in Calais are entitled to come to the UK to apply for asylum, although they’re not guaranteed to get it.

Q: It seems easy to get confused between the two, doesn’t it?

A: Yes. Even the Home Secretary can start talking about the “Dublin amendment”. But Full Fact readers won’t fall into that trap.

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