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Judicial review over treatment of EU rough sleepers begins


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A judicial review challenge to the Home Office policy of detaining and deporting rough sleepers from EU countries has begun in the High Court.

In 2016 the Home Office began accusing people – mainly Eastern Europeans – found sleeping on the streets of “misusing” their EU free movement rights. Lambeth Law Centre says that such people have been

subjected to administrative removal action which includes detention pending removal, regardless of whether they are working or not, and regardless of whether or not they have a permanent right of residence.

Its judicial review argues that the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 cannot be construed so as to permit this; that the enforcement of the policy is discriminatory; and that enforcement is “unlawful as it is being applied systematically”.

Research published in May for the Strategic Legal Fund found that

Common issues arising from the implementation of the policy include the confiscation of ID documents (making it impossible to exercise Treaty rights) and Immigration Officers not explaining appeal procedure or giving appeal forms as required by the policy. In addition, many rough sleepers reported being intimidated by officers whilst some homelessness agencies reported the disappearance of their clients only to find out they had been detained, even though they were supporting them to gain employment or accommodation… the policy has driven away homeless people and agencies supporting them from local-authority commissioned services. Homeless people… have become more guarded about revealing where they sleep in fear of Immigration Enforcement.

The much-anticipated hearing, which began on 21 November, pits the Public Interest Law Unit at Lambeth Law Centre and three claimants – Gureckis, Perlinski and Cielecki – against the Secretary of State. Marie Demetriou QC of Brick Court Chambers, Natalie Csengeri of Farringdon Chambers, Shanthi Sivakumaran of Lamb Building and Stephen Knight of 1 Pump Court have been instructed.

The AIRE Centre is intervening in the proceedings and are represented by Zubier Yazdani of Deighton Pierce Glynn. AIRE has a stellar success rate in defending EEA nationals against administrative removals, according to director Matthew Evans, who told ILPA members recently that he has not lost a case against the Home Office in the past 18 months.

In some ways this is a challenge whose time has come: permission was recently granted for a similar challenge in Northern Ireland, albeit on somewhat wider grounds. It is spearheaded by Conal McGarrity of PA Duffy Solicitors, who told Free Movement that the part of his challenge relating to the rough sleeping policy has been adjourned pending the outcome of the Lambeth litigation.

The hearing is listed for three days before Mrs Justice Lang. No immediate decision is expected.

Source: Lambeth Law Centre, “High Court to hear judicial review of removal of EEA nationals for rough sleeping”, 21 November 2017

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.