Help stop the Home Office criminalising EU citizens after Brexit

by The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Help stop the Home Office criminalising EU citizens after Brexit

by The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Case Owner
JCWI is an independent national charity, founded in 1967 to defend the rights of Britain’s migrant communities and fight for a fairer immigration system.
Funded
on 10th September 2020
£20,145
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 805 pledges
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Case Owner
JCWI is an independent national charity, founded in 1967 to defend the rights of Britain’s migrant communities and fight for a fairer immigration system.

Latest: March 16, 2021

Update on our permission hearing

Last Thursday we had our first court hearing. Our lawyers put forward our case that the Home Secretary is failing to meet her duties under the Equality Act, having designed the EU Settlement scheme i…

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We are taking action to help prevent tens of thousands of the most vulnerable EU citizens and their family members from being criminalised after Brexit.  

The Home Office requires all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement scheme in order to carry on living in the UK after Brexit. Anyone who misses the cut-off date will be left without legal status, facing the full force of the hostile environment. That means people who have built their lives and homes in the UK will be criminalised overnight for working, renting accommodation, driving or opening a bank account.  

Vulnerable people are most at risk of being criminalised

It’s the most vulnerable who are at greatest risk of being left behind. From older people struggling with technology and forced to choose between securing their status and risking their life by making an application in person; to survivors of domestic abuse whose status depends on their abuser; to disabled people forced to meet a higher standard of proof if their benefits records don’t tick the right boxes - it’s people who are already marginalised that bear the risks of this badly designed system 

And workers in industries with poor working conditions, insecure contracts and low pay, such as care, construction and agriculture are also at higher risk of being left behind and criminalised because the Government is relying heavily on employers to inform people about the scheme. Those in poor employment conditions are far more likely to have not heard of the scheme or to be unaware of the details of how to apply or the consequences of missing the deadline.  

The Home Office insisted on creating a system that will criminalise people who miss the cut-off date. Vulnerable people will pay the price for that choice.  

The Home Office is ignoring the risks

Despite the well-documented risks, the Home Office has no way of knowing whether marginalised groups are struggling to access the scheme, because it doesn’t ask. 

It collects age and nationality data from applicants, but isn’t collating statistics on applicants’ sex, ethnicity, race or disability – all ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010. This information would tell the Home Office who is applying to the scheme and whether they’re successful, and give an indication of whether people in certain groups are being left behind. Nor is it assessing whether everyone eligible for the Settlement Scheme has obtained it before it shuts down the scheme. Without this, there is no way the Home Office can know whether the scheme is going to result in protected groups being more likely to fall out of status.  

The Home Office claims it has produced a ‘Policy Equality Statement’ setting out its assessment of the risks of the scheme to protected groups, but it is fighting every step of the way to keep it secret.   

We believe the Home Secretary is acting unlawfully by failing to gather this data, or to otherwise properly monitor how the scheme is affecting protected groups. 

The clock is ticking -  we have to get the Home Office to act now

Months of lobbying and appealing for common sense have simply not worked. The clock is ticking to the cut-off date, and we need to get the Home Office to change course now. 

We’ve written a pre-action letter to the Home Secretary setting out our legal concerns with her monitoring of the schemeShe has until 23 September to respond, and we need to be ready to act as soon as that date comes around. 

Our legal team - Sara Lomri and Bijan Hoshi at  Public Law Project and Paul Bowen QC and Emma Mockford of Brick Court Chambers – are ready to go. But we need your help. 

We can't do this alone

We are asking for donations because we at JCWI have brought this claim in our own name. That means that we run the risk of paying the Home Office's costs if we lose the case, which could be very significant for us as a small charity with limited funds. Your donation will help us take up this fight by limiting the financial risk that we are taking.  

Any additional funds will be used to meet some of the costs of our solicitors at Public Law Project, which is another small charity and who are doing this case on a no win, no fee basis. If we are unsuccessful, they and our barristers will have put in substantial resources working on this case for free. If possible, we think its right that we should be able to pay them. 

We understand finances are extremely tight for many people right now. If you can't chip in, could you share this page?

Pledge today to help stop the Home Office criminalising innocent people

The Home Office should be doing everything in its power to protect people. Instead, just like with Windrush, it is ignoring warnings that innocent people are going to become criminalised, undocumented and at risk of detention and deportation. 

To help the tens of thousands of people at risk of being forced out of status and into the brutal hostile environment, please donate now 

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Update 3

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

March 16, 2021

Update on our permission hearing

Last Thursday we had our first court hearing. Our lawyers put forward our case that the Home Secretary is failing to meet her duties under the Equality Act, having designed the EU Settlement scheme in a way that puts tens of thousands of people in danger of losing their right to remain in the UK, with those who are already marginalised or vulnerable most at risk.


In a deeply disappointing decision, the judge refused permission for our case to go ahead to a full hearing. Effectively, the Home Office persuaded the judge that it had acted reasonably in collecting sufficient evidence on discrimination caused by the scheme, but also that there was insufficient evidence to say whether or not discrimination was occurring.


We disagree on both counts, but we are also concerned that these are all issues that should have been dealt with at a full hearing where the very detailed evidence of discrimination and the inadequacy of the Home Office response we presented could be properly considered. A permission hearing is only supposed to look at whether a case is legally arguable, and we strongly believe our case is.


We have instructed our lawyers to appeal the decision. It is going to be an uphill battle to persuade the Court of Appeal judges of our case, but we’re giving it everything we've got. We will be submitting our appeal this week, and will likely be able to report back a decision on whether the case can go ahead within the month.


We could not have got this far without your support, so a huge thank you to everyone who has backed this case. We have the funds we need to cover the costs including the appeal of the permission decision, so we are closing the crowdfunder for the time being. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far.

Update 2

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

March 11, 2021

We have our first Court hearing today!

Great news – we have our first court hearing today! This is our first opportunity to argue our case in open court – that the Home Secretary is failing to meet her duties under the Equality Act, having designed the scheme in a way that puts tens of thousands of people in danger of losing their right to remain in the UK, with those who are already marginalised or vulnerable most at risk.

It will be a short hearing, because at this stage the judge simply needs to confirm whether the case we are making is legally arguable.

The very first stage of a judicial review is for a judge to make a preliminary decision based on written arguments, without hearing from either side’s lawyers. It’s quite common for a case to be denied permission to proceed on the papers, and that’s what happened in our case. So now, taking the advice of our legal team, we’re going to the next stage, which is called a renewal hearing. Today we will be making our application again, but with our lawyers able to make our case directly to a judge.

We hope to hear whether the judge is giving us the green light to proceed with a full hearing within a few weeks, possibly even a few days.

We will keep you posted.

Update 1

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Dec. 8, 2020

We've launched the challenge!

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated already to help make this possible we couldn’t have got here without you. We are still raising money to cover the costs of bringing this case, so please do donate or share this page. 

Policy Equality Statement

On 18 November, over a year since we first requested it, the Home Office published its Policy Equality Statement on the EU Settlement Scheme. We still have no idea why it took so long to publish, leaving only 6 weeks to the end of the transition period and no time for meaningful engagement with the public, EEA+ citizens, practitioners and experts. When the Home Office refuses to engage with experts, it greatly increases the risks that its policies will have a discriminatory impact – just like what happened with Windrush. 

The Statement itself simply isn’t good enough. There’s no acknowledgement that people with some protected characteristics (such as older people, people with mental capacity issues, Roma communities), are less likely to know about the scheme in the first place. 

There’s no analysis on how protected characteristics and precarious work overlap, leaving some people like agricultural workers or care workers, at higher risk. 

And where the Home Office does recognise that certain groups face particular disadvantage, it says this is justified, pitting the needs of these groups against the needs of others. This isn’t good enough. 

Our case: standing with vulnerable EU citizens

The Home Office has created a scheme that will force significant numbers of vulnerable EU nationals out of status and criminalise them for living their daily lives. 

We believe the Home Secretary is in breach of her duties under the Equality Act, and today we are launching this legal action to protect those who are most at risk.  

We know that granting EU nationals and their family members an automatic right to stay in the UK would be the best option. That’s probably why Priti Patel and Boris Johnson promised that during the Vote Leave Campaign. But if they won’t do that, then they still have to make sure the EUSS complies with the law and it doesn’t end up discriminating against marginalised and vulnerable groups. 

So we are also setting out the basic safeguards we say must be met for the Home Secretary to meet her legal duties. She must extend the June 2021 deadline until she has worked out who is likely to fall out of status and made sure to put in extensive safeguards to prevent that happening. Only once we can be sure everyone is safe can we allow the EUSS to end.

A huge thank you to everyone who has already donated to make this case possible – we are still raising money to cover the costs of bringing this case, so please donate now. 

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