The United Kingdom quietly announced Wednesday that it was canceling a previous plan to take in 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees in what some are calling an act of “British Trumpism” in reference to the U.S. president’s recent travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries as well as all refugees.
Last year, then Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to take in child refugees as part of a project that was introduced by Lord Alfred Dubs, a Czech Jew who came to the U.K. in the 1930s through the Kindertransport rescue effort from the Holocaust.
British Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said in a statement that the reason for canceling the initiative was due to local authorities telling the government "they have capacity for around 400 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children until the end of this financial year.”
The 3,000 children would have been part of the 90,000 lone child refugees who have arrived in the European Union over the past few years.
“This is British Trumpism. Unaccompanied child refugees, at risk of being trafficked and abused, abandoned by our government. Sick,” Owen Jones, author and columnist for The Guardian, said in a tweet commenting on the news.
U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order just a week after he took office ordering that all travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries would be temporarily blocked from entering the country, including those with permanent residency.
The order, which has now been suspended by a federal judge, indefinitely seeks to halt accepting refugees from all countries. Rights groups and legal experts argue the ban is targeting Muslims in particular as Trump himself has said the U.S. would ultimately favor Christian immigrants only.
The U.K.-based Refugee Council policy manager Judith Dennis said the government’s “job is far from done; the global refugee crisis hasn’t gone away and if anything it’s getting worse.”
He added that the “U.K. needs to step up rather than step back and ensure that we pull our weight by offering refuge to more vulnerable people and enabling more refugees to reunite with their families here.”
Yvette Cooper, the chair of the British parliament's home affairs committee who played a leading role in the campaign, said the government’s decision to shut down the program after taking only 350 children “is completely wrong.”