The experiences of undocumented migrants must be included in the Covid-19 public inquiry, a leading immigration charity said.
Government policies, including the hostile environment, have meant those without immigration status “exist on the sharpest end of the Covid crisis”, a new report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found.
The UK’s undocumented population – estimated to be between 800,000 and 2 million people – have been exposed to greater risk despite helping to keep the country’s vital services running during the pandemic, the JCWI said.
The report pointed to European countries including Italy and Portugal, which ran amnesty schemes for migrants during the pandemic.
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Chiyoma (not her real name), came to the UK seven years ago from Nigeria, and became undocumented when she fell ill and had to overstay her visa because she could not travel.
Her fear of accessing healthcare meant her health problems worsened to the point she was a “walking corpse”, sleeping on buses as she was refused accommodation as part of the Everyone In scheme.