Repatriating mainland children who had the right of abode in Hong Kong but had entered illegally would set a bad precedent, government sources said yesterday. Those with right of abode could then be subject to deportation, they warned. The recent influx of mainland children - who will have right of abode from July 1 - has prompted some to suggest the Special Administrative Region should legislate to deport the children and force them to wait until their application is approved. A government source said: 'To be honest, we cannot send these children back after they arrive in the territory. 'We knew about this problem a few years ago. That's why we needed to have an increase of 75 in the daily quota to help settle these children in an orderly way.' The source said officials had accelerated the approval process. 'But the fundamental way to solve the problem is the management of the issuing of one-way permits, its transparency and the need to educate people,' she said. Another source said: 'If we can tell the applicants clearly when their applications will be processed, people will not run the risk of putting their children in the hands of snakeheads.' The source said the Government's legal advice was that these children could not legally be sent back. At present, people with right of abode cannot be deported. One of the sources said more than 100,000 children were officially expected to gain a one-way permit by the end of next year.