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I am writing as your constituent to share my concern around the current crisis and the suspension of support for the Settled Status scheme.

The Covid-19 pandemic is dominating government policy, public health and public consciousness - and rightly so. But we must remember that this crisis puts the lives and rights of migrants into even more uncertainty and danger.

After June 2021, EU citizens without Settled Status will become illegal in the UK. Many will have just played a vital role in keeping the country running and staffing the NHS. Others will have cared for the elderly, or delivered our groceries and take aways. Because of the Covid crisis and potential delays in the Brexit process, people who require face-to-face support and advice with their Settled Status application will not have been able to access it. The most vulnerable communities will not have been assisted or even reached as protecting public health becomes the priority. Children in care, domestic violence victims, elderly people with insufficient language or digital skills are currently unable to access additional support, yet the deadline stands.

There is a very simple solution to this situation. I urge you as a parliamentarian to support the Right to Stay principle. The UK Government could give all EU citizens currently residing in the UK a Right to Stay, guaranteed in primary legislation. This can be done quickly and easily, and must not become embroiled in future delays in EU trade negotiations.

The support available for EU nationals at risk to complete this process was limited to start with, and has now been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Granting EU nationals their rights via primary legislation at this point in time is the best course of action when dealing with a fast evolving situation that may take more than 12 months to solve. It is also the right thing to do.

As public services fray and collapse, people are put in lockdown and a humanitarian crisis unfolds, the whole of the Hostile Environment - including immigration enforcement and ‘no recourse to public funds’ measures - must be suspended.

What is the Right to Stay principle?

1. EU nationals living in the UK should have an automatic Right to Stay guaranteed in legislation.

2. This is what was promised, but it’s not what Settled Status offers.

3. Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status is currently not automatic. The government can turn down applications and there is no right of appeal. This has created fear and anxiety, and some people are being unfairly refused.

4. The Right to Stay principle replaces Settled Status with a registration system. Crucially it removes the threat of deportation hanging over EU nationals - and in the context of a pandemic, it allows for future access of the healthcare system.

I urge you to express your support for the Right to Stay for EU nationals and to put pressure on the Government to legislate for it.

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