Today, on Thursday 11th March the High Court will hold its first hearing over JCWI’s case that the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme will leave minorities and vulnerable groups undocumented and violates the Equality Act. 

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is taking legal action to require the Home Secretary to put in place essential safeguards to prevent the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) leaving tens of thousands of EU citizens and non-EU family members undocumented after the June deadline for applications. On Thursday 11th March, the High Court is holding a permission hearing to decide whether the case can proceed. 

The current design of the EUSS has disastrous implications for significant numbers of EU citizens. The Migration Observatory at Oxford found that tens of thousands of people, especially the most marginalised EU citizens, such as older and disabled people, Roma communities, looked-after children and survivors of domestic abuse, are at risk of losing their immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

JCWI’s own research finds that EU care workers and other key workers – the very people we are relying on to pull us through the COVID crisis – are amongst those in real danger of being left behind by the scheme. Research, published earlier this year, found that 1 in 7 care workers surveyed online did not know or were not sure what the EUSS was and 1 in 3 care workers did not know there was a deadline or did not know when it was.

Anyone who is unable to apply by the June 30th cut-off point will lose their legal status and rights overnight and faces detention and removal. People who have lived and worked in the UK for years could face criminal penalties for simply turning up to work the next day.  

 

Quote from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan 

“It is hard to quantify just how important EU citizens are to our city; as our friends, family, neighbours and key workers. The contribution they make to London is invaluable. I am especially concerned that some of the most vulnerable European citizens living in London risk losing their rights, and I am incredibly concerned that the Government is failing to put safeguards in place to ensure thousands of EU Londoners have settled status.  

It’s simply unacceptable that so many face losing their legal status because the Government hasn’t made the EU Settlement Scheme as accessible as possible, that’s why I support JCWI’s legal challenge. I urge the Government to listen to reason and lift the deadline immediately.” 

 

Quote from Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director at JCWI  

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel promised that all EU Citizens would get an automatic guarantee of their rights, and the EUSS is a total betrayal of that promise. If even 1% of the millions of the EU residents of the UK do not apply in time, that would leave tens of thousands without legal status.  

With the June deadline rapidly approaching, and after trying for years to get the government to put protections in place, we have been forced to take legal action to ensure that all those who were promised they’d be safe get a fair deal.”  

 

JCWI is arguing that the Home Secretary is: 

    1. Acting unlawfully by failing to collect, monitor, and publish equality data about the EUSS in breach of her public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010; 
    2. Is in breach of the Equality Act and EU principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination because of the discriminatory impact the EUSS has on minority and protected groups; 
    3. Is in breach of the Human Rights Act because she has failed to put in place adequate safeguards to stop vulnerable groups and minorities from being made undocumented. 

The government is proud of the fact that it has spent over £4 million on the campaign to encourage EU citizens to apply for settled status. It spent around £150 million on the marketing campaign to encourage people to switch over to digital TV and had budgeted over £200 million.   

 

We are crowdfunding to support our legal costs in this important hearing and we would be grateful for your support. 

For press enquiries please contact:  

Nadia Hasan, Press Officer for JCWI – [email protected] / +44(0)7742 079349  

Spokespeople are available for comment.