14 December 2017
The High Court has today ordered the Government to stop removing homeless EU nationals from the UK, ruling that the policy is unlawful.
This follows a Home Office decision, in May 2016, to update its guidance to claim that rough sleeping constitutes an ‘abuse’ or ‘misuse’ of freedom of movement rights. As a result, it was able to detain and force EU nationals to leave the UK, regardless of whether they are employed or have permanent residency.
Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, responded to the news:
“This result is a significant blow to the Government’s “hostile environment” – a welcome reminder that the Home Office is, in fact, accountable to the law.
While the Government has continually refused to release up-to-date figures on the number of EU nationals detained and removed for rough sleeping, it’s thought this runs into the hundreds – if not thousands. The Home Office may now face a raft of legal claims from those affected.
According to the latest official figures, 17% of rough sleepers in the UK last autumn were EU nationals. This figure soared to 31% of all rough sleepers in my constituency, London. This means more than 700 individuals from the EU have been at risk of removal from the UK – simply for falling upon hard times.
Of course, this does not solve the growing crisis of homelessness in the UK: there is still much work to be done to find solutions for that. However, today’s result is a symbol of the growing discontent with Theresa May’s “hostile environment”. Thanks to Migrants’ Rights Network and Liberty, the Home Office may soon be back in the High Court to defend its data-sharing agreement between the NHS and the Home Office which puts vulnerable migrants at risk. 
I congratulate the organisations involved and hope this decision sends a strong message to the Home Office – you will be held to account, and the rights of vulnerable people must be protected.”