Culture, Struggles, Workers

Brexit and Latin Americans: An unclear immigration status and a lot of uncertainty

A future exists where economic recession, redundancy, higher levels of discrimination and a slump in Latino population growth is possible. Following the referendum result, this is now the situation this community faces.


migrant 1 London featured pixabayVirginia Moreno Molina


Bearing in mind that free movement within the European Union might end, the growth of the Latin American population in the United Kingdom will slow.

This is according to Cathy McIlwaine, a professor of geography at Queen Mary University of London and author of several research papers centred on the community in question.

However, she explains that ‘it is likely that the illegal immigrant population will grow over the next few years, because it will be a lot more difficult for Latin Americans to enter the country legally’.

Over the last few years a considerable number of Latin Americans have travelled from Europe, who, as holders of EU passports, felt at ease.

However, their migration status is now uncertain, and both their future, and that of other Latin Americans in the United Kingdom, depends on upcoming Brexit negotiations.

What is clear is that uncertainty rules, and is spreading. Cathy McIlwaine, whose most recent research is entitled ‘Towards Visibility’ (detailing recent statistics on Latin Americans in the United Kingdom), spoke with The Prisma on the consequences that Brexit could have for this community, and its influence on the different aspects of the lives of this group.

uk borders inmigracion wikipediaWhat noticeable changes have there been for the community?

In relation to the Latin American study body in London, there has been an increase in racist comments since the referendum.

For example, a Panamanian student told me last week that he had been shouted at when he was speaking on his phone in Spanish to his mother. In terms of the wider community, the organizations are better placed to comment on this than me.

I know that LAWRS and IRMO have reported that more people have been contacting them for advice about how their rights have changed and that there is a general feeling of uncertainty.

What aspects in particular will affect the Latin American community?

This depends on the Brexit negotiations and the deals that will be made regarding EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK. I think that those living here will be allowed to stay, but this depends on the political agreement reached between the UK government and the EU.

Will the population continue to grow, as it has done over the past few years?

If freedom of movement within the EU is removed (which is likely), then it is most likely that the Latin American population growth will slow given that the most common form of entry is currently via Spain with EU passports.

Iinmigrante pixabayt is possible that the irregular population will increase in the coming years as it will be much harder for Latin Americans to enter legally.

Which nationality of the Latin American population will be most affected?

Those most likely to come from Spain which includes Ecuadorians and Colombians mainly. In addition, many Brazilians and Argentinians have EU/Italian passports and their movement will be affected.

Of this group, who will be the most affected?

In terms of numbers, probably Ecuadorians.

Will Brexit have an impact upon Latin American students?

Again, this depends on the political negotiations and what is agreed regarding the rights of EU students to home fees. Latin Americans pay overseas fees if they have Latin American passports. In this sense, it will make no difference. The difference will be for those with EU passports.

Jael De la Luz inmigrante-wikipedia-3 (The Prisma)The majority of Latin Americans who live here are of working age. How will Brexit affect job hunting?

It depends on their immigration status. If they have British passports and right to remain then it won’t affect their ability to actually secure employment. However, if they have EU passports, Brexit may affect their right to work in the UK. This will be decided in the political negotiations with Brussels.

How will Brexit affect employment within this community?

It is highly likely that the UK will go into economic recession as companies are less likely to invest in the UK if it is separated from the EU. The current insecurity and uncertainty will also affect consumer confidence which has recessionary effects as well.

Early indications are suggesting that the property market will contract considerably as well. Obviously, in a recession, there will be fewer employment opportunities available for everyone, including Latin Americans and people will be more likely to lose their jobs.

Inmigrantes que no buscan 08_pixabayWill Brexit affect businesses?

If people don’t have jobs, they are much less likely to spend in Latin American businesses.

How will this affect Latin Americans who are coming from Europe? (OLAs)

It might be preventing Latin Americans from moving here from Europe because of the uncertainty of their immigration situation. However, I’m not sure and it’s probably too early to tell.

Photos: Pixabay and Wikipedia   –   (Introductory paragraphs and questions translated by Abaigh Wheatley – Email:

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