The Green Party’s migrant and refugee support spokesperson, Benali Hamdache, wrote in the Independent about the consequences of Priti Patel’s hostile environment on EU citizens ahead of the deadline to apply for settled status.
Introduced in 2013 by Theresa May, these policies have inflicted misery, from deporting Windrush elders to driving racism in the rental market, and racist “go home” vans.
EU migrants who don’t, for whatever reason, apply for settled status by the beginning of July will find themselves vulnerable. They will lose the ability to work and rent a home, and access to the NHS will be lost.
The fear of many charities and advocacy groups is that those who won’t have claimed by the deadline will be the most vulnerable – the elderly, more isolated migrant communities and children, and the victims of trafficking.
The EU settlement scheme always represented a historically ambitious process: a drive to register millions of citizens, with much of the rollout taking place at the same time as a pandemic.
No previous regularisation scheme has managed a 100 per cent application rate, and the consequences of falling short by even a few per cent are dire. It means tens of thousands of people left without rights.
It’s hard to tell how many EU citizens have yet to apply. As of May 2021, the government had received 5.6 million applications. But the government has no idea how many EU citizens are living in the UK. We don’t have a clear idea on how close we are to 100 per cent.
In the last gasps of June, we find that there is a backlog of 400,000 applications for settled status. Applicants report that the Home Office can’t handle the volume of calls. Many find themselves stuck in uncertain stress and limbo.