`Coercive expulsion of homeless EEA nationals unlawful’

Three bodies jointly assert scheme needs to be challenged
25th August 2010:  Migrants’ Rights Network, Advice on Individual Rights in Europe, and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association believe the UK Border Agency’s scheme of alleged `coercive expulsion of homeless EEA nationals is unlawful’.
They have jointly asserted the scheme needs to be challenged.

The MRN has asserted: `Recently the UKBA has launched a pilot scheme attempting to remove homeless EEA nationals, who do not wish to leave, on the basis that they are not exercising residence rights in the UK.

`The UKBA is aiming towards a combined strategy for dealing with homelessness, underpinned by the prospect of immigration enforcement for those who do not comply.

`However, the basis for expulsion on which the new scheme relies is yet to be tested in the courts. AIRE Centre, ILPA and MRN believe that this scheme of coercive expulsion is unlawful and needs to be challenged`.

They have elaborated: `Domestic legislation imposes a “right-to-reside” test that EEA nationals must meet in order to access certain benefits, including income-base jobseeker’s allowance, income-based employment and support allowance, income support, pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, as well housing and homelessness assistance.

`Economically inactive EEA nationals are often unable to demonstrate to the authorities that they have a “right to reside”, and this has resulted in protracted legal disputes, with those applying for benefits unable to access them while the disputes go on.

`This is particularly the case for A8 and A2 nationals, many of whom, as a matter of domestic law, cannot exercise a right to reside as jobseekers and therefore cannot access jobseeker’s allowance.

In many cases, it appears that the authorities apply the test incorrectly. At a time when the number of those sleeping rough for other reasons has dwindled, many of these EEA nationals unlawfully, or arguably unlawfully, refused benefits are described as “entrenched” rough sleepers, lumbered with responsibility for their predicament when often unlawful State action has played a predominant role.

`Given the complex legal regime that applies (overlapping and conflicting domestic and EU rules), many advice agencies do not know that they can challenge refusal of benefits and would have difficulty doing so even if they did.

 `Given that these homeless EEA nationals are foreigners, the logic seems to be that
the best solution is to expel them. In our view, that is unlawful.

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