UK apologizes after sending deportation warnings

By mistake, UK sent deportation warnings to around 100 EU citizens
A European Union flag flying in front of Elizabeth Tower, otherwise known as Big Ben, in London. One of the worries post-Brexit is the uncertainty of the Europeans living in the country – Photo: AFP
24/08/2017
13:25
London
EFE and AFP
-A +A

Britain's Interior Ministry sent deportation warnings to around 100 EU citizens by mistake, it emerged yesterday, when the British authorities had to apologize for the incident.

Eva Johanna Holberg, a Finnish historian at Queen Mary University of London, was one of last week's recipients. The letter informed Holberg that if she did not leave the country within a month, the Ministry would have to give “directions for removal”. The letter qualified Holberg as “a person liable to be detained under the Immigration Act” as well.

Holberg, who has lived in Britain for years, told the BBC on Wednesday: “I could not believe my eyes.” She explained that she had contacted a lawyer to ask if she could appeal against deportation. After her case became a scandal, the Home Office was forced to apologize for the mistake.

“We have spoken to Ms. Holberg to apologize for this and assure her that she can remain in the UK,” it said in a statement. A spokesman said around 100 similar letters were sent.

“We are contacting everyone who received this letter to clarify that they can disregard it,” the spokesman explained. “We are absolutely clear that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged.”

The Opposition Liberal Democrat party’s home-affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to “personally” write to those affected to apologize.

London is in negotiations with the European Union over future status of European nationals living in the UK and Britons in the EU after Brexit.

Currently, about 3.2 million EU citizens living in Britain do not need a resident permit. However, the scenery might change after the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Immigration was a top issue for the Brexit campaign and Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to cut the number of EU nationals moving to Britain.

“This is shameful,” said James McGrory, head of the pro-EU campaign group Open Britain.

“It's little wonder that many EU citizens feel worried about their future status in the UK when they hear of people with every right to be here getting letters threatening their deportation,” he said. 

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