The settled status application deadline must be extended and enforcement paused, writes Alyn Smith MP, SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.
I was shocked to learn last week that the Home Office has a backlog of 400,000 settled status applications, up from just over 300,000 earlier this month. And the immigration minister Kevin Foster told me and other MPs that over 10,000 new applications were being made every day.
It is crystal clear that tens of thousands of people are not going to be able to apply by 30th June deadline. And any EU or EEA citizen who has not applied by that date will not be a legal resident in UK law from 1st July.
Some of the most vulnerable - people like victims of trafficking and modern slavery, the elderly, children – could be at risk. And to make matters worse, the government has said that after 28 days it will begin subjecting them to the most violent tools of immigration enforcement. People could lose the right to live here, work here, rent or even access the NHS, and the effects would be felt for years to come.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The UK Government’s deadlines and actions are utterly arbitrary, and they could lift them today if they choose. The Netherlands has already extended its deadline for UK citizens to apply for residency, and it looks like France will do the same imminently.
No-one, regardless of where they have come from, should be treated like this. Migrants are our neighbours, colleagues and a valued part of our communities, and the Home Office’s dehumanising policies have no place in a modern society.
The UK Government’s 'hostile environment' policies have been inflicting pain on migrants from all corners of the globe for years now, and EU citizens are beginning to be get dragged into it. It is a scandal and we must put an end to it – not in our name.
The more people we can get to oppose the cruelty of the Home Office, the more pressure we can bring. Figures from across EU member states have already raised the alarm, opposition politicians like me have voiced their anger, and if we fight we can make this a turning point for how migrants are treated in this country.
Over 20,000 people recently signed the European Movement’s petition demanding that the UK stop detaining EU and EEA citizens entering the UK. Now we need to take the next step and write to ministers directly to prevent even greater injustices from being perpetrated.
Today, I am joining the European Movement in asking you to write to Priti Patel and immigration minister Kevin Foster and demand that they act now to prevent a true disaster from occurring.
It will take time, but step by step, together we can help defend our friends and neighbours and roll back the notorious hostile environment.