Saturday, December 9, 2017

So Brexit wasn't about hating foreigners?

der Spargel - As Brexit nears, Britain grows increasingly hostile to EU citizens. Oh, so it's not about hating foreigners?:

The Pasieczna family moved to Great Yarmouth 12 years ago from their hometown of Wroclaw. There were jobs here, with the rural hinterlands dotted with farms, feed lots and meat processing plants. The Polish newcomers felt welcome and settled in quickly. They painted their living room mint green, hung deer antlers on the wall and bought two Yorkshire terriers. When Agnieszka gave birth to a daughter, she named her Diana, "like the princess." Life was good - until the summer of 2016.

It started with little things. "This is England, speak English," said one woman to Agnieszka as she was speaking Polish with her children. "Go back to your own country," Diana was told in school. Then, this spring, her neighbor mounted the first of the cameras on the wall and said: "I'm going to take care of this damn Polish problem!" After several instances of intimidation, Agnzieszka called the police. She was told: "If you don't like the cameras, maybe you should move away."


In Stockport, a car dealership wouldn't let a German who had lived in the town for 20 years to test drive a car, arguing that the man's driver's license was no longer valid due to Brexit. Universities are refraining from hiring professors from Spain or the Netherlands in anticipation of Brexit. Banks are refusing loans, landlords are illegally demanding to see British passports. Across the country, people with Romanian, Lithuanian or other accents have had their windows smashed.


Theresa May, in her previous role as interior minister, made it abundantly clear that she intended to reduce net immigration to "below 100,000." And she was willing to use any means necessary to achieve that, those close to her said, adding that it seemed to be the only issue she was really passionate about.

May announced back then that she wanted to create a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants. The residency permit application form was bloated from 12 to 85 complicated pages and the process was made more expensive. In 2013, she sent out billboard vans onto the streets of Britain reading: "In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest!" It was the same tune that the Brexiteers played three years later: Foreigners, whether they were from Brussels or Bratislava, made things in the UK worse than they should be. In future it should be Britain First.


In practice, however, things look quite a bit different - as can be seen in the case of Klaudia Orska, a Polish woman who has remained remarkably cheerful despite the bureaucratic odyssey she's been forced to go through.

The 45-year-old has lived for 11 years in the UK. She works for an apartment realtor, pays her taxes and speaks perfect English. In May, she sent off her application for a residency permit to the Home Office. It consisted of hundreds of pages, including notarized documents, photographs, spreadsheets - an entire life reduced to 3 kilograms of paper.

The package arrived and the application fee was deducted from her account. Then nothing happened. Radio silence. After three months, she was sent back all the documents along with a rejection notice and was told to prepare to leave the country. The justification cited for the rejection was her alleged failure to send passport photographs. Even though the photographs were attached to the pile of papers - a pile that seemed to not have been touched.

Orska sent the package back with a complaint, and reapplied. Three weeks later, she was rejected again, this time because her bank account details were allegedly missing and it was not possible to deduct the fee. "It's like Monty Python," she says and even manages to laugh about it. Who knows for how much longer, though. She now finds herself threatened with deportation to Poland.

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