Last week was a hectic one for the3million, with several visits to Parliament to inform and engage MPs.
We started by holding an event with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants for MPs to debate the new “Settled Status” scheme and hear about how EU citizens experience applying for the scheme.
The booked-out event was chaired by SNP immigration spokesperson Stuart McDonald and attended by MPs from across political parties, including Kate Green (Labour), Alberto Costa (Conservative) and Ed Davey (Lib Dems) on our discussion panel.
There was a sense of frustration with the scheme from the audience, but also constructive discussion. Jill Rutter from British Future emphasised the scale of the Government’s task of reaching out to EU citizens, and the option of having a declaratory registration scheme had support from several MPs.
Watch the second part of the debate:
The following day, my colleague Luke Piper (immigration lawyer at South West Law, and legal adviser to the3million) spoke in Parliament about the new scheme to Yvette Cooper’s Home Affairs Select Committee, and again emphasised the importance of the Home Office reaching out to every EU citizen to make them aware of the need to secure their status.
We also presented on Thursday to a committee scrutinising the Immigration Bill passing through Parliament this week. This time, our EU law specialist Professor Stijn Smismans of Cardiff University explained we are concerned about this Bill because in ending freedom of movement, it strips away the related rights for EU citizens already living in the UK.
the3million believe the Immigration Bill should be withdrawn or delayed until there is an EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement in place to protect EU citizens.
Failing that, we want the date for ending freedom of movement to be in June 2021 or later, as the majority of people who have not had time to apply for settled status by Brexit day will otherwise face discrimination in the job market and from landlords if there is no deal.
We are also pushing for no backsliding on Government promises to implement a transparent and simple application system for the new scheme, and for a declaratory system so that people who do not manage to apply for settled status by the 2021 deadline are not treated as illegal immigrants.
Finally, you might not know that many EU27 citizens in the UK can still vote in the European Parliament elections in May this year. There is a lovely campaign on Twitter, and you can find out more about it at www.thistimeimvoting.eu.🔷
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(This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)