The Conservative government has made clear it is unrepentant over removing murals of cartoon characters at an asylum centre for children in Dover.
Jenrick reportedly felt they gave the impression Britain was too “welcoming” to people crossing the English Channel in small boats.
The Kent Intake Unit mainly processes children who arrive solo unaccompanied by an adult. The move comes as Rishi Sunak’s government has made cracking down on immigration one of its central goals.
In the House of Lords on Tuesday, minister for migration and borders, Lord Murray of Blidworth, dismissed the concerns of Labour’s Lord Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child.
Lord Dubs said: “The minister has just said that the government takes the welfare of unaccompanied children seriously.
“How does that relate to the arrival centre in Dover which had cartoons and welcoming signs for children and which were ordered to be removed by the Home Office minister because it might make the children feel too welcome? Isn’t that a disgrace?”
Lord Murray responded: “The murals he refers to were provided by our detention contractors and were not commissioned or approved by the Home Office.
“It is clearly the correct decision that these facilities have the requisite decoration befitting their purpose.”
Conservative peer Lord Brownlow responded by saying he was “quite frankly ashamed at your last answer minister”, adding: “I think people in this House and the wider community would have preferred your answer to have been ‘it was a mistake to paint over those murals and that a contractor would be commissioned to repaint them’.
“We are a welcoming country and whilst I accept the bill is needed to deter it is time we showed some compassion.”
In response, Lord Murray said: “This is a detention facility for those who entered the country unlawfully and it’s appropriate that it be decorated in a manner which reflects its purpose.”
The government has pledged to stop overcrowded dinghies making the journey from northern France to the UK. More than 45,000 people arrived in Britain across the Channel in 2022, and several died in the attempt.
The courts have ruled the plan to deport refugees to Rwanda is unlawful.