Over 60 per cent of the EU citizens stopped and questioned by UK border officials post-Brexit are from Romania, according to figures.
The government data prompted questions from lawyers about potential discrimination, as a fivefold increase has been registered for the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
Of the 7,249 people stopped at ferry ports or on Eurotunnel and Eurostar services, 4,482 were from Romania, The Guardian has reported.
By comparison, only five people have been stopped from Denmark, 59 from Belgium and 144 from France.
Chetal Patel, immigration lawyer and partner at Bates Wells, told the newspaper: “It’s legitimate to make general checks with a view to controlling illegal immigration but these latest figures beg the question of where there is an underlying agenda.
“These types of stops can be traumatising, and there is a risk immigration officers may be targeting innocent people. Racial profiling is discriminatory and it needs to be nipped in the bud if it’s happening.”
But a Home Office spokesperson told the paper that the racial profiling claim is “false and unwarranted” and that rules are applied “fairly”, based on whether an individual has the right to work in the UK.
The spokesperson also highlighted the fact that data relates to a period of time of tight Covid restrictions, when non-residents arriving in Britain “faced greater scrutiny to protect against imported coronavirus cases”.
EU citizens at UK immigration detention centres
In May, The London Economic revealed the case of a Spanish woman forced by UK border agents into an immigration detention centre upon arrival, who was later revealed to be one of dozens of EU citizens to have gone through the ordeal.
The woman came back to London from Valencia to live and work as she had done before Brexit, in 2019.
But upon having to explain her intentions to UK border agents, who asked her why she wanted to enter the country on top of her passport and negative Covid test, she also told them she has relatives in the UK.
But her friend, Oriol Arnedo, said she was taken to a room where her mobile phone was taken away and she was subsequently held to a detention centre.
The European Commission told TLE that they were keeping a close eye on the way EU citizens are being treated.