Concern over detentions of EU nationals by UK on immigration grounds

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The European Commission will raise the recent detentions of EU nationals at U.K. airports on immigration grounds with the British government at a coming meeting, MEPs said.

POLITICO had revealed that at least 30 EU nationals from Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Romania have been detained at U.K. airports and held in immigration removal centres after being identified by U.K. border officials as intending to work in the country without a work visa.

A group of MEPs urged European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to press the U.K. to stop holding EU nationals in immigration centers.

The Guardian reports that the slightest suspicion that someone may be entering Britain to work is often enough for them to be locked up, held at detention centres for up to a week and then expelled to wherever they have travelled from, some of those caught up by the policy have said. Complaints from relatives and host families in the UK have either gone unanswered or been ignored by the Home Office and some local MPs, they say.

An Italian NHS consultant told of his horror when his niece arrived from Italy for a short visit but ended up in a detention centre surrounded by barbed wire. There is growing anger over what campaigners and MEPs have said is a “disproportionate” and “heavy-handed” implementation of post-Brexit immigration restrictions on EU citizens.

Meanwhile, the watchdog for EU citizens’ rights in post-Brexit Britain, the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), said Friday it had requested information from the U.K. Home Office on this issue earlier this week in a bid to find out if any EU nationals with rights to reside in Britain after Brexit had been detained by mistake. The IMA was established in January to oversee the U.K.’s implementation of the citizens’ rights provisions in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The Telegraph reported that more than five million EU citizens living in the UK have applied for settled status, nearly double the number thought to be residents before the EU referendum, official figures revealed on Thursday.

The Home Office data showed 4.9 million of the 5.4 million had already been granted settled status, of which 4.88 million were living in England. This compares with the three million that were estimated to have been in the UK at the time of the vote on Brexit in 2016. 

It came as the Home Office launched a new information campaign urging EU citizens living in the UK to apply for the settlement scheme as soon as possible, before the deadline of June 30.

POLITICO / Telegraph / The Guardian