“There were bars on the windows”: An Italian woman detained upon arrival in the UK speaks

In the arrivals hall at Heathrow, Giuseppe Peschieri was waiting for his cousin, Marta, to arrive.

With him was his four-year-old son, who carried a balloon and some drawings he had made to celebrate Marta’s arrival in London and her first summer post-pandemic with her family.

But Marta never showed up.

“They were waiting, waiting, and waiting for him to come out,” recalls Jennifer, Pichere’s wife.

“The last message they received was on the waiting list while she was waiting to go through the immigration. That was the last time they heard about it.”

While Pecherry and her son were waiting for Marta Lomartier, a 24-year-old Italian, the British Border Force told her that she could not enter the United Kingdom.

“I was so glad I went to England,” Marta told Euronews.

“I thought my first trip would be a good opportunity and experience, but the result was completely different.”

Marta traveled to London to learn English and help with caring for the Bishiri children while both parents went to work. They both work for the NHS: Jennifer is a nurse, and Giuseppe is a consultant microbiologist.

He spent a long time gathering all the documents he was told he needed, but was told they were not enough. They took her to an office where they interrogated her and searched her bags.

Then they took her to a detention center and put her in a room with three beds and bars on the windows. A security door opened to allow entry into the room.

They told her that they would deport her to Italy the next day.

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He said, “They allowed me to make a call before they took my phone and personal belongings.”

There would be anger if they were British citizens

Dozens of EU citizens have been detained at the border in recent weeks due to misunderstandings about new entry requirements that came into effect after Brexit.

They include citizens from Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Portugal, Bulgaria and Spain, who travel to the UK for job interviews or to find a summer job.

The European Commission told Euronews that it had raised the issue with the United Kingdom and other member states.

For European officials, the detention and deportation of EU citizens is “extremely disproportionate.”

“There would be anger, rightly so, if it was mutual for UK citizens,” said Dacian Seollos, president of Renew Europe, the liberal political group in the European Union.

For this part, Million An organization that advocates for the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom, told Euronews that far from red tape, detention and deportation should be a last resort.

“These strict measures are extremely worrying for European Union citizens who have fallen into the trap of the massive backlog of requests for Settlement Status – many are concerned that they will not be able to demonstrate at the border their right to remain in the UK,” he said. the group.


Marta’s family was concerned about the changes due to Brexit before her arrival and said she did everything in her power to collect the necessary paperwork to obtain the visa.

Jennifer said her local deputy assured her that Marta could enter the country for six months au pair.

“Honestly, I thought there should be a visa,” he said. “He told me there was nothing.”

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“Italy, from what I understood, tried to reach a mutual agreement.”

to me British government website, a au pair You are not considered an employee if you meet most of the conditions on the checklist.

These include conditions such as obtaining a signed invitation letter from the host family, learning the British culture and language, and undertaking 30 hours a week of light housekeeping and babysitting.

But the site also says that a pair of babysitters cannot work on a visitor’s visa if she’s been visiting the UK for six months or less.

The British Association of Marital Agencies (BAPAA), Which the British government refers to, adds this employment AU pairs Europeans who do not have proper pre-settlement status are now “illegal”.

It also calls for urgent support for his campaign to reopen a specific way AU pairsOr, to face a “childcare crisis.”

Marta’s family maintains that their experience was “a terrible way to treat anyone,” but it is not an isolated case.

“This is how the immigration services have handled people for decades,” Jennifer said. “But now it’s happening to Europeans.”

“I feel some responsibility for being a British family member. When it first happened, we thought it must have been a mistake. We thought we were unlucky and that was a huge mistake.

“What are you going to do, that was a real mistake.” We said to ourselves, “But it’s getting more and more surreal.”

It was three in the morning when Marta was taken to the detention center, and when she got there I thought she had been taken to prison.

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Jennifer said, “What sticks me is that she is a member of our family. Our children love her and look forward to spending time with her; they have been with her all last summer.”

In response to concerns about visa issues for AU pairsThe UK Home Office said: “EU citizens are our friends and neighbors and we want them to stay, so they have until 30 June to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if they are residing in the UK and joined by 31 December 2020.”

“For those who were not residents prior to this date, as the public expects, we require proof of the individual’s right to live and work in the UK.”

Back in Italy, Marta says there is only a 50% chance of trying to go to the UK again.

“I am terrified because it wasn’t a very nice experience,” she said.

“I certainly didn’t feel welcome, but I don’t feel I have completely ruled out an opportunity there, for now, the idea of ​​coming back is no.

I know I never did anything wrong. I also have my cousins ​​there, so I would like to be able to go back and spend time with them. ”

It was an experience that should be beautiful and should leave a beautiful memory. It became a very bad experience that made me feel sad. “

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