UK2deport: New bordering of the UK: Post-Brexit deportability and governance of EU mobility


This interdisciplinary research draws upon ethnography and interpretive policy analysis in order to understand the consequences of the new immigration law and policies for EU citizens in the United Kingdom. With Brexit and the abandonment of the free movement and residence principle, UK has deployed a new European Union Settlement Scheme for EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition. EU citizens who will migrate to the UK from 2021 will need to go under the legal ways available to all migrants, most importantly – the points-based system. These changes in migration governance will be taking place in extraordinary circumstances of global pandemic and economic crisis – a probable consequence of Covid-19, that in the UK will be exacerbated by Brexit. Anti-immigrant sentiments, expressed both by the British public and policy-makers, may be a consequence of perceiving migrants as an economic competitor on the labour market and access to social security, which, in turn, may take its toll in policing this numerous group of migrants.

The objective of this research project is to explain the mechanism and the role of governing the EU population with the multiple forms of deportations in the post-Brexit UK. UK2deport will research deportations comprehensively, including all forms of non-voluntary return to the country of origin and will focus on the populations that are most vulnerable to become undocumented and deported. This research has seven research objectives: to understand the grounds for deportation in the new UK immigration law; to explain the law in practice concerning the multiple forms of deportation of EU citizens in the UK; to provide a catalogue of forms of deportation of EU citizens from the post-Brexit UK; to estimate the impact of the UK deportation policies and compare the differences in their application on the nationals of the “old” versus “new” EU member states; to comprehensively explain the factors that condition the deportability of EU citizens in the UK; to explain the role of EU deportations in the post-Brexit and post-Covid UK; to provide a middle-range theory of deportation concerning the UK case, by integrating theoretical and empirical knowledge.

This research compares deportations of EU citizens from the “old” and “new” (i.e. 2004 and later EU accessions) member states. Recently, the literature has pinpointed the intra-European inequalities in the access to social security benefits, and the citizens of Central and Eastern European Union have been described as victims of cultural racism. UK2deport seeks to contribute to this literature by analysing the national inequalities in deportations between the EU citizens. The project will collect ethnographic data about Lithuanian, Polish and Romanian citizens, as these three national groups are the most represented among the deported EU citizens and often are offered support from welfare benefit agencies to return.

UK2deport draws upon interdisciplinary qualitative methodologies, including multi-sited ethnography and legal analysis. The latter will involve the UK Immigration Bill; Immigration Rules; First and Upper tier tribunal immigration decisions and Home Office policy papers (guidance). The ethnographic part of research will involve in-depth interviews with the stakeholders responsible for the implementing of the deportation system over the EU citizens as well as actors resisting it: the Home Office representatives, Council workers who assist vulnerable EU citizens, charity workers doing reconnection programmes and immigration barristers. The interviews with the stakeholders responsible for the implementation of the deportation system, legal acts and policy papers will be studied within the Interpretive Policy Analysis. Within the ethnographic research task, the research team will interview Lithuanian, Polish and Romanian deportees and EU citizens from the “old” member states. The research will include ethnic minorities (especially, the Roma). Transnational ethnographic research will involve observation of immigration and asylum hearings, homelessness charity patrols and a community receiving the “reconnected” homeless in Poland. Irregular EU migrants will also be interviewed in order to understand the experience of deportability. Outcomes of UK2deport will reach the EU, UK and Polish academic community and the general public in Poland and the UK.




2021 - 2024

Source of funding

National Science Centre, Sonata 16 call