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Renáta Plachetková: EU citizens without settled status as of 30 June in the UK will be deported

19.2.2021 8:18
Renáta Plachetková, a field worker (right), is aiding Czech citizens in England with handling the paperwork associated with applying for settled status post-Brexit. (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Renáta Plachetková, a field worker (right), is aiding Czech citizens in England with handling the paperwork associated with applying for settled status post-Brexit. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

About 47 000 citizens of the Czech Republic have requested settled status in Great Britain recently, but authorities estimate approximately 120 000 Czech citizens total now live on British territory, around 70 000 of whom are Roma, and the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has sent Romani community member Renáta Plachetková to Great Britain to provide Czech nationals aid in dealing with the paperwork to acquire settled status, working as a ministerial adviser based in Leeds. She is now warning, in an interview for ROMEA TV, that if Czech citizens living on British territory are not granted settled status by 30 June 2021, they will be deported. 

"The representation of the Czech community on the territory of Great Britain is estimated at 120 000 people, of whom 70 000 represent the Romani community," she says in the interview, adding that her statistics come from the British authorities, the University of Salford and the Czech community in the UK with whom she is in contact during her work. All citizens from the EU Member States who are living on British territory must receive settled status by 30 June 2021 if they intend to remain.

Thanks to the rights flowing from settled status, EU citizens will be able to work in the British Isles, take advantage of state-run health care services, travel to and from British territory, and access social security programs that are publicly financed, such as pensions and welfare. "The Government set up new rules in association with Brexit," Plachetková reminds ROMEA TV.

"Currently, each citizen [of an EU Member State] living in Great Britain has to have a valid travel document and must apply for settled status in order to be able to legally remain on the territory of Great Britain and acquire the same rights as the British," Plachetková tells ROMEA TV. She warns that if Czech citizens living in Great Britian are not awarded settled status by 30 June 2021, they will be deported. 

"Yes, they will be deported, effectively, if they are illegally present on the territory," she says. "Already now we are able to see these problems on the horizon, many clients are contacting us because their benefits have been cancelled."

"The basis for the cancellation is that they haven't passed the residency test," the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry staffer explains. "That means the system has no record of their having applied for settled status." 

Most Eastern Europeans on British territory, according to Plachetková, are experiencing problems with applying for settled status because they have no current travel documents from their countries of origin, as those were not previously been required of them. "The system was different before in Great Britain, Czech citizens did not have to present such travel documents here to the local authorities or police," she describes. 

"That was not just the case for Czech citizens, but for all citizens from Eastern Europe," Plachetková explains, adding that such people lack current documents and that their children do not have Czech birth certificates because they were born in the British Isles and their parents never recorded their existence with a Czech registry office. "No British local authority or school ever asked parents for Czech documents, the British birth certificate was enough."

"Most clients whom this affects are children between the ages of 10 and 15," she says. "They are not recorded at a Czech registry office, so the Czech Republic knows nothing at all about them."

"If a client has never been recorded at a Czech registry office, then he or she cannot apply for a Czech travel document," Plachetková explains, warning that while children will not be deported if their parents have settled status, any children whose parents do not have such status will no longer have the right to take advantage of state health insurance. According to her, 47 000 Czech citizens have applied for settled status so far.

"I think 7 000 - 8 000 more people will still manage to be granted settled status, but the rest are people who frequently would never be able to apply for settled status anyway because they have brought certain problems with them from the Czech Republic," she tells ROMEA TV. "Even if such people had valid travel documents they would have no chance of being granted status because of those problems."

The upshot is that thousands of Czech citizens, Romani people among them, will have to repatriate to the Czech Republic from Great Britain after 30 June 2021. Plachetková is concerned that a big problem will arise when the returning children enrol into Czech schools. 

The problems can arise when it comes to documenting children's attendance in the British schools, there can be problems with the children passing the tests designed to assess what grade they should be assigned to, and above all, there can be problems with the language barrier. "Each pupil cannot be given an assistant to communicate in English," she notes.

"Instruction cannot happen in English either," she says. "The children will be disoriented by their new environment, new people, new instruction and a new language, all of this will be new to them," she predicts, adding that "another problem is that most of these children do not have any documentation of their school attendance."

"If the children want to enrol into their corresponding grade level, they will have to pass tests comparing what they know with what each grade level requires, and on the basis of that they will be assigned to a grade level," she says. The Labor Ministry staffer also emphasizes that Romani pupils who were born in Great Britain are specific in that the Czech culture, environment and language are now absolutely foreign to them. 

"These children are second-generation, they have no mastery of the Czech language at all, they have no connection to Czech culture," she tells ROMEA TV. "They are fluent in English."

"These children are so proficient in English that frequently it is they who handle communications with local authorities, the school, etc., on behalf of their parents, who do not have those abilities," she says. "These children have been incorporated into British society, it's a new generation that has experienced better living conditions here."

"I am concerned that the Czech side and the Czech education system is not prepared for this," Plachetková tells ROMEA TV. Relevant, up-to-date information about Brexit and settled status in Great Britian can be found on the Facebook profile "Česká obec" [Czech Council]. 

jab, LC, th, vhl, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Brexit, Roma, UK, Xenophobia



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