Exploring the experiences of London’s Latin American migrants in Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic

Published 30 November 2021 / By COMPAS Communications

Back to Articles

Latin Americans constitute a diverse and vibrant community in London. Yet little is known about how they have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic or indeed how they have been navigating Brexit over the last couple of years. In attempts to address this and to encourage further research, from June 2020 to June 2021, COMPAS and its partner Latin American House interviewed Latin Americans across London. The findings from this work are launched today.

The objective was to explore Latin American migrants' experiences throughout Brexit and the pandemic and to find out specifically:

  • How did Latin Americans navigate the EU Settlement Scheme?
  • What does the end of freedom of movement mean for Latin Americans?
  • How did Latin Americans experience the COVID- 19 pandemic?
  • What could have been done better and what should change?

While Carlos Huascar Tapia Montes (Director of Latin American House) initiated this collaboration, the research was led by Carlos Vargas-Silva (Director of COMPAS) and Domiziana Turcatti (DPhil Candidate at COMPAS) with Natalia Bassotti (Staff member at Latin American House) acting as co-researcher. Decisions about the research questions, research design, and how to disseminate the results were taken by the staff of Latin American House.

Carlos Vargas-Silva described how the project led to a large number of findings linking to academic and policy perspectives;

"Among those findings, there are two that are particularly noteworthy. First, misinformation about the EUSS was common, particularly among Latin Americans with limited English skills, those employed in low-income jobs, and for non-EU family members. Second, Latin Americans’ understanding of the end of freedom of movement in the UK is shaped by their past migratory trajectories. In particular, Latin Americans with EU passports who came to the UK via Southern Europe felt that the end of freedom of movement returned them to a position of legal vulnerability, a feeling that was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.”

Carlos Huascar Tapia Montes, Director of Latin American House and initiator of this collaboration commented:

"Brexit and COVID19 represent once in a lifetime events that will affect migration to the UK and the composition of its communities for years. Research and studies such as this one between COMPAS and Latin American House are important to understand how these key events affect our communities. The research also sheds light in our communities, which officially remain invisible. To fully understand the dimension of communities like ours in the UK, many studies are necessary. I hope this is the first of many collaborations between COMPAS and LAH"

The report 'The Experiences of London's Latin American Migrants during Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic: An Exploratory Qualitative Study' is launched today. Infographics summarising the findings both in Spanish and English were created to facilitate the dissemination on social media to raise awareness among the wider public, and can be seen on Latin American House's Twitter feed.

The research was conducted through the public engagement project ‘Enhancing the impact of migration research with Latin Americans in London’ carried out by the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS) in collaboration with Latin American House (LAH), funded by the University of Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund.


The Experiences of London’s Latin American Migrants during Brexit and the COVID-19 Pandemic