EU citizens risk becoming the next victims of Theresa May's hostile environment after Windrush

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  • There are “very considerable risks” Europeans applying to remain in the UK after Brexit will face similar problems to those faced by the Windrush generation of Caribbean-born UK citizens, according to MPs.
  • The Home Affairs committee said children whose parents believe they are already UK citizens are particularly at risk.
  • Vulnerable groups such as victims of domestic abuse, trafficking and exploitation, children in care, and those with mental health issues may also fail to apply in time, the report said.

LONDON – There are “very considerable risks” that EU citizens in the UK could become the next victims of Theresa May’s hostile environment policy, British MPs have warned.

The Home Affairs committee, which scrutinises the Home Office, said “urgent action” was needed to ensure EU citizens do not fall victim to the same mistreatment experienced by the Windrush generation of Caribbean-born UK citizens.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent other groups facing a similar plight – including undocumented children, EU nationals once the registration scheme is introduced,” a committee spokesperson said.

The report raised concerns that many EU citizens, most particularly children, will simply not register to remain in the UK, therefore jeopardising their legal status within the country.

“There are […] some very considerable risks – especially with regard to take-up of registration,” the report said.

Many children who may wrongly assume – or whose parents wrongly assume – that they are British citizens are likely not to apply for the “settled status” scheme for EU citizens, the report said.

Vulnerable groups such as victims of domestic abuse, trafficking and exploitation, children in care, and those with mental health issues may also fail to apply in time, MPs warned.

The “appalling treatment” of the Windrush generation

The report forms part of the Home Affairs committee’s ongoing inquiry into the Windrush scandal, which saw over 60 Caribbean nationals deported from the UK, and many more face lengthy discrimination, despite having been legally resident in the UK for decades.

The committee said in a statement that the “appalling treatment” of the Windrush generation showed the need for “root and branch reform to the Home Office’s culture, policy and approach to immigration.”

“Members of the Windrush generation have been denied their rights and treated appallingly by the Home Office and there is still a very long way to go to put this right or to ensure it won’t happen again,” said Yvette Cooper, Labour MP and committee chair.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the new Brexit

application process for EU citizens

“Time and again we heard evidence about the culture of disbelief that has developed in the Home Office in recent years, about people feeling they were being set up to fail, and a complete lack of proper checks or safeguards to prevent injustice.”

Cooper said the Home Office needs to “learn lessons and instigate major reforms […] or this kind of appalling injustice will happen all over again to others in future.”

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