Judges Use EU Law to Block Deportation of Criminal Migrant

Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Judges have blocked the deportation of a Romanian criminal convicted of a string of offences including burglary, robbery, and possession of a knife, citing European Union law.

20-year-old Denis Viscu has racked up 14 convictions for 20 offences since his arrival in the United Kingdom in 2007, perpetrated between July 2014 and March 2017.

EU supporters often claim that the bloc’s Free Movement migration regime only applies to people travelling for labour, and that Britain and other member-states can deport EU migrants who commit crimes and avoid work — but in reality migration rights are much more general and deportation powers much more limited, as the Home Office found when it attempted to deport Viscu as a “persistent offender”.

Citing Chapter IV of the EU’s Citizens’ Directive, which states that “[European] Union citizens who have resided legally for a continuous period of five years in the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence there”, judges at the Court of Appeal ordered the migrant’s case must be reheard, the Telegraph reports.

The Home Office had argued that Viscu’s spells in custody for his long string of crimes “broke the continuity of [his] lawful residence” and that he should therefore not qualify for enhanced protection under the EU’s five-year rule — but judges decided that, as a juvenile, he was technically sentenced to youth detention rather than “imprisonment” his residence in Britain had in fact been “continuous and uninterrupted”.

Lord Justice Underhill did say that the Government could still make a case for deportation on public policy and public security grounds when the case is reheard, conceding that “Although the jurisprudence refers most frequently to ‘imprisonment’ rather than ‘custodial sentence’, I am quite satisfied that the rationale for the principle that, in general, a custodial sentence is indicative of a rejection of societal values and a severing of integrative links so as to interrupt the required continuity of residence, is equally applicable to sentences of detention in a [Young Offender Institution] as it is to imprisonment.

“This is because, on a proper analysis, it is not the sentence which indicates rejection of societal values but the offending which is sufficiently serious to warrant a custodial sentence whether of imprisonment or some other form of detention,” he added.

However, EU law is clear that “previous criminal convictions shall not in themselves constitute grounds for’ denying an EU citizen their right of residency.”

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