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Stuck in limbo – EU nationals speak out at Brighton protest

EU nationals fear deportation after Brexit. MA International Journalism student Jessica Rings shares their stories.

Pro-EU Day Without Us protesters gather at the Clocktower in Brighton City Centre Pro-EU Day Without Us protesters gather at the Clocktower in Brighton City Centre
Pro-EU Day Without Us protesters gather at the Clocktower in Brighton City Centre

Pro-EU Day Without Us protesters gather at the Clocktower in Brighton City Centre

By Jessica Rings

More than 50 people gathered for the Day Without Us rally at the Clocktower in Brighton to show solidarity with EU immigrants.

During the emotionally charged protest on Monday, February 20, teary-eyed immigrants shared their life stories and fears of an uncertain future.

Christine Engert, a 48-year-old German living in Hove said: “I’m in limbo because I don’t know what is going to happen to me in two years time.

“It is really sad and unfair and I think [the government] should show some respect, I have contributed to this country and never used any services.

“I came here in good will 20 years ago and my life is here now so it’s quite upsetting and I’m very emotional.”

Many EU nationals at the event have been residents of the UK for decades.

A 40-year-old unemployed full-time mother of two who chose to remain anonymous explained the heartbreak of leaving the country she calls home.

Pro-EU campaigners at the Day Without Us protest in Brighton

Pro-EU campaigners at the Day Without Us protest in Brighton

She is horrified at the thought she may be living illegally in the country she has called home for 40 years, despite having lived here since she was a ten-month-old baby.

She said: “If we do stay here I don’t know if I will be able to access the NHS or get a pension, the entitlements that as far as I’m concerned have always been available because this is my home.”

Pushed to desperation, she has hired an immigration solicitor and considered the drastic action of changing her name in the fear that she could be sent to the Netherlands where she would be illiterate as she cannot read or write in Dutch.

If she has to leave the UK there is no guarantee that her husband will be able to join her tearing her family apart.

Kati Bryne, who lives in Brighton, is half Bulgarian and half German.

She said: “I think we need to educate the UK population about how much value we bring to the UK.

“I think the worst bit about Brexit is the hatred that’s developed towards foreigners.”

Speaking at the event Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, convenor of Brighton and Hove Green Party spoke at the event: “In Brighton and Hove we have had increases in hate crimes.

“We need to think about how we are going to oppose bigotry in all its forms, we also need to think about how we are going to oppose the governments damaging attempts to stoke prejudice.”

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