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+++ Brexit: English bishops say “no” to Settlement Scheme imposed by the government on EU citizens +++

The British government will soon launch a “Settlement Scheme” aimed at EU citizens who live in England, offering them “a legal route” to remain after the 2016 Referendum which led to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. But the Catholic Church in England and Wales “strongly” opposes this decision for it charges “people for securing the rights they already have”. “This is not only unprincipled”, Bishop Paul McAleenan in charge of Migration and Asylum at the Bishops’ Conference strongly denounced in a statement, “but will also create a barrier for larger families or people facing financial difficulties”. For this reason, the bishops made representations on these issues to ministers and through the Home Office working groups set up to discuss the Settlement Scheme and will continue to do so. In his statement, Bishop McAleenan, on behalf of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, expressed “solidarity” to all EU citizens who “have made their home here”, and since “the majority are themselves Catholic this is a special pastoral concern for us”, the bishop explained.
The bishop also emphasised “the extensive contribution that people from across Europe have made to our society. They are an integral and valued part of our parishes, schools and communities”. And he went on to say: immigration from Europe “has not undermined opportunities for UK citizens”; on the contrary, it “brought considerable economic and social benefits”. After the 2016 referendum, too many European people living in the UK “have faced profound uncertainty and insecurity about their future”. Despite “reassurances offered by senior politicians”, people “have been given far too little information or binding commitments about their right to stay. For some, this has been worsened by the appalling rise in hate crime, which has left them feeling unwelcome or even threatened in the country that has become their home”. The bishops are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable, who may face difficulties in accessing the scheme, leaving their immigration status at risk.
The bishops therefore ask Catholic parishes, schools and organisations to bring the Settlement Scheme to the attention of those who may need it and to signpost people towards official information on how to access it.

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