The Covid-19 pandemic is dominating government policy, public health and public consciousness – and rightly so. We must remember that this crisis puts the lives and rights of migrants into even more uncertainty and danger. Unless we act to prevent it, we could be facing an additional catastrophe in terms of the rights of millions of people living in the UK.
In June 2021, EU citizens without Settled Status will become illegal in the UK. Many will have just played a vital role in keeping the country running and staffing the NHS. Others will have cared for the elderly, or delivered our groceries and take aways. Because of the Covid crisis and potential delays in the Brexit process, people who require face-to-face support and advice with their Settled Status application will not have been able to access it. The most vulnerable communities will not have been assisted or even reached.
There is a very simple solution to this situation. We urge the UK Government to give all EU citizens currently residing in the UK a Right to Stay, guaranteed in primary legislation. This can be done quickly and easily, and must not become embroiled in future delays in EU trade negotiations.
The support available for EU nationals at risk to complete this process was limited to start with, and has now been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Granting EU nationals their rights via primary legislation at this point in time is the best course of action when dealing with a fast evolving situation that may take more than 12 months to solve. It is also the right thing to do.
As public services fray and collapse, people are put in lockdown and a humanitarian crisis unfolds, the whole of the Hostile Environment – including immigration enforcement and ‘no recourse to public funds’ measures – must be suspended.
To stop the uncertainty and give EU nationals the security they need and deserve, we’re calling for the Government to adopt the Right to Stay.