“Surprised Brits” is the phrase coined for long-term migrants and British citizens who have suddenly found themselves to have irregular status thanks to the tougher immigration regime. If you’re not a migrant yourself, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be in constant pursuit of papers. The right papers. Papers that change with government press releases, at least annually. To qualify for status one year, and then a few years later not qualify for an extension of the same status, even though nothing about you has changed. Britain always changes – or at least the immigration regime does.
That’s the case for some of these people, but for many more, who came to the UK as children, they assumed they were British – and are now finding out that they are not as British as they thought they were, even if it may be their home, perhaps even the only home they know.
Chasing Status tells the stories of this group: those who, after living most of their lives in the UK, find that following legislative changes they are suddenly unable to work or claim beneits. Having long taken their Britishness for granted, such people ‘can’t believe their nationality, much less their lawful presence, is being questioned’
This isn’t surprising. The hostile environment campaign is making life difficult for so many migrants – and Brits; it’s not just a case of legality, as Theresa May would have us all believe, but of family, community and dignity. Chasing Status is the name of the report by Legal Action Group (link above in first paragraph). It’s worth a read.