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Report: EU citizens locked up and turned back at UK entry

Gatwick Airport. gateway to deportation. © Mike McBey/Flickr

European Union citizens are being detained at ports of entry or sent to immigration detention centres in the UK and then expelled, in defiance of the rules in place, according to the Guardian.

Rules drawn up by the Home Office, based on the rules of the European Economic Area (EEA), citizens of the group without a visa to enter the UK are permitted to do so in order to attend a job interview before returning home.

Despite or perhaps because of Brexit, UK companies are keen to employ people from EU countries to help maintain or grow trade bonds with the bloc.

But people from the EU – examples include job applicants from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Greece and Spain – who intended to attend an interview, then return home to await a job offer before applying for a visa – have been turned away at points of entry, sent back immediately or detained, in some cases for days without contact with the outside world, before also being sent back where they came from.

One Czech woman who had arrived in Britain on a flight from Mexico, was told she would be expelled. When she offered to pay for a flight to Prague, her offer was refused, and she was deported on a flight back to Mexico.

Others were sent to a detention centre At Yarl’s Wood, two hours from Gatwick airport, where a Covid emergency meant they were detained in their rooms – effectively in solitary confinement. A Frenchman was held at Edinburgh airport for 48 hours.

One Spanish woman had her phone confiscated and had to spend 24 hours in a room with only a fold-out bed with six other women – strangers in a pandemic situation. She was then put on a flight to Barcelona.

One barrister who works with immigrants told the Guardian: “The Home Office need to explain why exploring the job market or attending an interview justifies refusing EEA nationals entry at the border when immigration rules specifically allow visitors to – among other things – attend meetings, conferences and interviews,” she said.

It seems to be detaining people despite being unclear of its own position. This is yet another illustration of the normalisation of immigration detention in the UK and the Home Office’s disdain for the right to liberty.”