EU nationals demand justice from Westminster as Scots lobby for immigrant rights

Nathanael Williams

Scots politicians and charities put pressure on UK Government for EU and non-EU migrant’s rights across the UK

EU NATIONALS, non-EU migrants and refugees will be joined today by MPS and MSPs from the SNP and charities to lobby the UK Government on a day of action called ‘One Day Without Us’.

Inspired by the protests in the US by Latino residents against mass deportations before and since the presidency of Donald Trump, migrants from inside and outside the EU will use today (Monday 20 February) to highlight their contribution to Scotland and the UK.

The day of lobbying in Glasgow’s George Square and in front of the UK House of Commons from 12pm, follows the UK Government’s failure to guarantee the right to stay for EU nationals currently residing and working across the UK.

Joanna Cherry MP, the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokesperson, is speaking at the London event and has renewed calls on the UK Government to guarantee the residency status and rights of the 3.3m EU nationals living and working in the UK.

She said: “The UK government’s disgraceful refusal to guarantee the residence rights of EU nationals is causing uncertainty to millions – and it is actively damaging our economy and society.

“EU nationals who live, work, and study in the UK make a huge and valued contribution that benefits the whole country. It is unacceptable that almost nine months since the EU referendum Tory ministers continue to leave these families in limbo by treating them as bargaining chips.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stated that EU nationals living and working in Scotland should remain. In August last year, she met with EU nationals in Edinburgh to talk about the way the UK leaving the EU would affect EU national in terms of family and work connections.

However, immigration and residency status are issues reserved to the competence of the UK Government and are not controlled by the Scottish Government.

Campaign groups such as Right to Remain have emphasised that the political climate created after the decision to leave the EU has diminished the status of EU nationals in the UK. It also expressed the importance of fighting for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers who face deportation, detention and abuse in UK Home Office services.

A charity spokesperson told CommonSpace: “One day without us encourages us to reflect on the sometimes vital, life-changing, sometimes mundane day to day part that migrants play in the life of the UK and in the life of our communities.

“On this day Right to Remain will be standing with thousands of others to defend the rights of migrants, standing up to the hostile environment and especially to immigration detention.”

The Scottish Government has also received praised from charities such as Amnesty and the Scottish Refugee Council for its stance on non-EU nationals and refugees. Although the Scottish Government can not aid in deportation cases it has increased funding to local councils to help with refugee training and relocation in communities.

This month the Scottish Government funded a program to help train refugees who are doctors to widen their skills set and help them settle in medical workplaces in Scotland.

“The UK government has the power to end the damaging uncertainty that it has created – and it must do so by providing a firm guarantee now.” Joanna Cherry MP

Scottish charities such as the Scottish Refugee Council, Glasgow St Pauli and Refuweegee have also demanded that non-EU nationals status be guaranteed.

Cherry added: “It is not only deeply unfair to treat our colleagues, friends, and family members this way but it is also detrimental to the economy – deterring the top talent we need to attract for our key industries, and forcing families that currently live and work in the UK to reconsider their future here.

“The UK government has the power to end the damaging uncertainty that it has created – and it must do so by providing a firm guarantee now.”

When contacted by CommonSpace David Mundell, the only Tory MP in Scotland and an advocate of Brexit, had “no comment” on the day of action or the UK Government’s decision to not guarantee the rights of EU nationals.

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