Unions concerned that many EU citizens will become criminalised and vulnerable to Hostile Environment policies.

1 Jul 2021

 

With the closure of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) yesterday, the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC ICTU) is deeply concerned that many EU citizens will become criminalised, undocumented and vulnerable to Hostile Environment policies.

As a result of Brexit, EU citizens, who have and worked here legally for years, must apply to the EUSS to continue living, working and studying in the UK. The official end date for applications to EUSS was 30th June.

Those who fail to apply or have their applications rejected will lose the right to work, access free health care, social housing, rent accommodation, receive social security and could face detention and removal.

Reports from charities and advice organisations that assist EU citizens in NI to apply to the EUSS indicate that individuals and families are presenting after the deadline has expired, seeking to apply and many have yet to come forward.

Overwhelming evidence, from support organisations across the UK and the Home Office itself, has found that it is the most marginalised in society, including children, who are the most likely to be failed by the scheme

NIC ICTU welcomes confirmation from the Home Office that will accept late applications to the EUSS for a limited period of time. However, there will still be people who miss out.

There is also the issue of those EU citizens who live in the Republic of Ireland, but work in NI. It is estimated that there are around 30,000 of these Frontier Workers.

Since the EU referendum in 2016, the ICTU has been calling for all EU citizens to have a guaranteed right to remain in the UK. EU citizens play a key role in our economy, society and communities. The departure of foreign nationals since Brexit has already begun to adversely affect some sectors of the economy.

The EUSS clearly fails to match the promise made by the UK Government to EU citizens in 2016, that they would be ‘treated no less favourably than they are at present’ and would be ‘granted automatic indefinite leave to remain.’ 

NIC ICTU also welcomes and supports the call from CAJ and four other NGOs urging the NI Executive to take action to protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members