"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Life on Watling Street


'Storyville: Documentary in which critically-acclaimed filmmaker Marc Isaacs paints a rich portrait of multicultural life in the UK by looking at the lives of immigrants living along the A5, one of Britain's longest and oldest roads. Stretching from London to the Welsh coast, the road has always been an important lifeline for new émigrés. Today, it is a microcosm of the wider world, and the film meets people from across the globe whose lives now orbit around the road. '

The A5 is the old Roman road, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watling_Street . Still a vital artery, and one which has seen many many small and large waves of migration - starting with the Romans themselves, or maybe even the Celts who were immigrants in their day. There should be a life in the UK question on this.

Time will linger, time outlasts.

https://twitter.com/BritCits immigrant of the day :
QE2's husbd Duke of Edinburgh,dad & grandad to future Kings of England born in Greece as Prince Philip of Greece & Denmark

Easter links

Halting immigration 'would cost UK £18bn in five years'.


The economic benefit of immigration to the UK is revealed today in a report showing that halting net migration would cost every taxpayer in the country £137,000 over their lifetime.

Analysis of Office for Budget Responsibility figures by the Migration Matters Trust reveals that if net migration were stopped tomorrow, the UK's net public sector debt would rise from 74 per cent of GDP to 187 per cent within the next 50 years – higher than Greece's current national debt of 161 per cent.


EU warns Cameron over 'knee-jerk xenophobia'. Employment commissioner condemns prime minister's speech.


"There is a serious risk of pandering to knee-jerk xenophobia," he said. "Blaming poor people or migrants for hardships at the time of economic crisis is not entirely unknown, but it is not intelligent politics in my view.

Of course, such overblown rhetoric can and will cause real hurt. This isn't a game. http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/rip-i-was-afraid-something-like-this.html

Italian tradition of ‘suspended coffee’ takes hold elsewhere in tough economic times.


Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.

More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.

https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK tweets :
Naples to Bulgaria to USA to UK those pesky #migrants spreading kindness!

MPs of all parties need to choose their words wisely before stoking fears on immigration.


https://twitter.com/sturdyAlex tweets :
The UK has the largest expatriate population of any European country. They are, of course, not mentioned by Cameron.

https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK tweets :
Church leaders speaking out for the poor and migrants! -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-21987497 https://twitter.com/BishopDudley

https://twitter.com/PeterGraystone tweets :
Grant Shapps says he understands poverty like a vicar. But post-surgery he goes to Westminster. Vicar goes with needy person to a food bank.

https://twitter.com/BishopDudley tweets :
My parable was about how we meet the risen Jesus in the person with no shoes. Guess this Easter we will meet Jesus in the #Foodbank

https://twitter.com/MigrantVoiceUK tweets :
Migrant voices from Scotland! 'We're helping the economy': Irina Dinoci, 20, from Romania

https://twitter.com/vmantouvalou tweets :
Let's face up to reality: people migrate because migrant labour is in demand' says Europe's @CommissionHR

https://twitter.com/emmabmoussa tweets :
Can't make no sense of this Burden on the taxpayer, ATM Hubble looks after me 4 free, take him away and the public pay 4 my care nd my sons!

Dee's story makes the same point :

https://twitter.com/emmabmoussa :
exactly good example we become a burden because we are forced in 2 single parenthood, if our husbands were here no need for benefits

UK human rights blog, weekly smorgasbord of human rights news.


https://twitter.com/gerardhearne tweets :
@TheresaMayMP @Mark_J_Harper What God hath joined together let not man put asunder

Joan Rivers seized by UK border guards as she films new TV show… after they mistook her for an illegal immigrant.

The Irish high court judgement of Raducan & Anor -v- MJELR & Ors   [2011] IEHC 224 illustrates EU free movement rights denied, and serious consequences following from that.


From http://eumovement.wordpress.com/ , an interesting blog on free movement in Europe.

Christian church opens doors to Muslims.


The week that was at Beijing Cream.

"We are powerful and we will soon be dominant": Golden Dawn's intimidation in the courtroom.

Golden Dawn's "national awakening" sessions.


Now Golden Dawn is targeting pupils at primary schools. Its official website recently hosted pictures of neatly-dressed 6 to ten-year-olds, accompanied by parents, at a  “national awakening” session held  at a Golden Dawn branch office outside Athens. The session included a discussion on “the Olympian gods, the ancient Greek pantheon and the Christian faith". More such lessons are planned, says the party.

Shocked educators and commentators drew comparisons with propaganda methods used in Nazi-era Germany and by the military junta that ruled Greece in the 1970s. Golden Dawn was defiant. “You’re bothered by us teaching Greek history? …We’re going to write it, too”, shouted Dimitris Koukoutsis, one of 18 Golden Dawn lawmakers, during a rowdy exchange with left-wingers in parliament. 

Trying to get through: Hungarians send video messages to Prime Minister.

Russians can't agree on Berezovsky's suicide.

Fractures in the Beaufort Sea! Huge.

Dee and Ozan

'He has supported me and my son through everything we have been through... He would die to be with us'.

Dee, a British citizen, met her future husband, Ozan, in May 2010.

Ozan was working in a hotel as a lifeguard. Dee quickly realised that he was a natural protector, for her and her young son from a previous relationship. Dee's son instantly hit it off with Ozan.  Dee and Ozan's friendship developed to the stage that Ozan invited Dee to visit his home city, Istanbul. Over the next few months, Dee travelled back and forth between the UK and Turkey, their relationship deepening over many months.

In July 2011, Dee needed an emergency operation - a terrifying, sudden prospect. Every day, Ozan sat with her on Skype, providing support and helping to get her through this very difficult time in her life. During the hours and days they spent together, Ozan helped to guide her recovery. InEventually, he asked Dee to marry him.

Once Dee's recovery was complete, she was on her way to Turkey to marry the man of her dreams. It was a beautiful wedding. In Dee's words, 'He has supported me and my son through everything we have been through'.

Now, the new family had to make a decision - where to live. Initially, they decided that Ozan was to apply for a visitor's visa to the UK, in order to decide if he could really be happy there. Unfortunately, devastatingly, Ozan's application was rejected - 'You have nothing to go back to', in the bureaucratic mindset of authority.

Ozan's mother has cancer - Ozan most certainly does have a life and a family in Turkey, but his priority is his life partner, and his new family, as it should be.

Very quickly after hearing the news of the visitor visa rejection, Dee made a happy discovery. She was pregnant with Ozan's child.

As soon as she had news of her pregnancy, Dee had the foresight to make inquiries with lawyers as to the best course of action. They advised that Ozan should not appeal the visitor visa rejection, but should instead apply for a different kind of visa - a spousal visa.

Dee started to gather all the requirements and documentation that are necessary for a spousal visa application. She was able to build up the funds for the application. Ozan sat his English language test, and passed first time. They were nearly there.

Unknown to the family, and with very little warning, in June 2012 strict new immigration guidelines were announced. There was never a debate in the House of Commons on these new rules; and yet they were to be implemented only one month later, in July 2012, giving very little opportunity for anyone, even experts in the field, to react.

Dee was having a difficult pregnancy - which she had to endure, alone, apart from her husband. She was spending time in hospital. On 14th July, she received a letter stating that she did not meet the income requirement, but that she may have a case under the right to family life, guaranteed to all European citizens.

(Editor's note: Dee earns £16,300 per annum, which is above the 'living wage'; she expects that her family income would be much higher if Ozan were here, working and supporting the family - clearly they would be in a more stable situation, and therefore less likely to have to claim benefits at any point in the future. The government claims that the measures introduced reduce the benefits burden on the taxpayer. Dee's example disproves that; a family together, with two earners, is far less likely to have to claim benefits - now or at any time in the future - than a partner who is effectively forced to be a single mother, supporting a family by herself). 

But the lawyer Dee employed made mistakes in her application - mis-spellings, an incorrect date of birth, and so on - careless errors that should never have happened. Dee spent more time, more effort, correcting these errors; at a very difficult time in a woman's life.

Even after correcting these mistakes, the application was refused. There is zero room in the rules for any discretion - even though median incomes vary considerably across the country; even though many people live frugally and for various reasons do not require a big income to live off; even though forcing a family apart is in fact more likely to push people onto benefits. Even though forcing a family apart is, in itself, morally wrong.

Dee has a baby daughter, who cannot be with her own father. Dee's daughter talks to the TV, to the computer screen, as if it is her own father - because she sees her Dad on Skype. Much like the family in this video - Skype Daddy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKrCUaKB4KM .

Dee's son has a hard time too; he just doesn't understand why he can't be with the man he considers a father-figure, as a family.

Dee has no support except from extended family; she is working to support two children, and dealing with another upcoming operation, all by herself.

Ozan would die to be with, and to support, his family; it just doesn't make sense.

Dee is very very angry that her family has been divided through the unthinking nature, and application, of these rules.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Stacey and Yoshi

Stacey tells her story :

'I AM A 24 YEAR OLD STUDENT, reading Japanese and public relations at university. I met my partner, Yoshi, two and half years ago, and we've been in a relationship for two years now. He is Japanese and I am British. I had no idea that falling in love with someone outside of the European Union would prove to be such an ordeal.

When we met, my boyfriend was studying journalism at the same university as me. Although he very much enjoyed his time in England, the course proved to be unsuitable and so he decided that he would return to his home country and train to be a language teacher instead.

As part of my course, I spent a year in Japan on an exchange program. We lived together for months at a time, both in England and in Japan, and are very much in love. When we are living apart from each other, we Skype, every single day, despite the 9 hour time difference between our two countries. We have shared, and continue to share, amazing experiences and have decided that we want to spend the rest of our lives together.

We both agreed that we would prefer to settle in England together. Although I had an amazing time in Japan I couldn't see myself settling there and Yoshi was more than happy to move to the UK with me. Yoshi started a course at a language school in 2012 and is now fully qualified to teach Japanese. I will be graduating next year.

In order for us to live together in the UK Yoshi decided to apply for a working holiday visa. This would enable us to spend two years together without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money flying back and forth to each other's country every few months, for a short visit. After those two years we plan to marry. Unfortunately, the working holiday visa is like a lottery and only 1000 people will be lucky enough to get one. Yoshi was unlucky this time.

We are so very much in love that we would marry today if it meant we could be together. But due to the new non-European spouse visa restrictions that were implemented not too long ago, it won't make any difference. And I cannot tell you just how devastated Yoshi and I are.

£18,600 is how much I need to be earning in order to sponsor my partner. Even if I were to graduate from university and get a well paid graduate job, I live in the North of England. It could be years and years before I'm earning enough money to fulfill that requirement. My partner is qualified to teach and wants to work; he will never be entitled to benefits or welfare anyway because he isn't European (editor's note: All entering on a spouse or fiance visa have the words NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS stamped into their passport, and cannot claim benefits), so why not take into consideration his income? Why actively discriminate against low income earners of non European spouses? Why is it moral to tear people apart like this based on income?

Long distance relationships are difficult, regardless of visa restrictions. You have to be committed, patient and prepared to endure long periods of time apart from the one person in your life whom you feel you can share everything with. Everyone has their own issues to deal with in life and all I ask for is that I can come home to the one person in this world who makes me feel happy, loved and secure.

When I heard that Yoshi didn't get the working holiday visa, I think I was more shocked than I expected to be and actually fell into depression. People have no idea how difficult it is being in love with someone and being unable to see them and hold them simply because you aren't earning enough money. I have never felt so low in my life. I recently heard about a British woman who committed suicide because she couldn't be with her Egyptian partner and I cried so much because I honestly know what she was going through. The situation is horrendous. (Link : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/rip-i-was-afraid-something-like-this.html ).

Ultimately, I'm being forced to choose between my home, my country and the culture I was brought up in - and the love of my life. I will choose the love of my life. we are still young and considering our options but it upsets me greatly that I'm being forced to make this choice. I am British. I am not a foreigner asking to live in Britain with a foreign partner. I am a British individual who wishes to live in Britain with the love of my life.'

More stories like this: http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories
Sunday morning

European watchdog accuses Britain of shameful rhetoric on migrants.

Bulgarians and Romanians 'treated like a scourge' as immigration debate in UK takes worrying turn, says watchdog.



A bad day for foreign scroungers. But a worse one for David Cameron, as the prime minister panders to the xenophobes.


It doesn’t take too many encounters on Ipswich doorsteps to conclude that fears over foreign hordes are scarcely about immigrants at all. Most residents of Ipswich—a port town with a thousand-year history of trade, where the body of a 13th-century African was recently exhumed—claim to feel inundated by foreigners. Yet Ipswich’s immigrant population is only 12% of the total. Some locals say immigrants are scroungers; in fact they are less likely to claim benefits than the natives. Others fear they work too hard; but that is scarcely a fault. In short, these are not rational arguments. They are proxy fears—expressing the uncertainties of a town where, until a few decades ago, three-quarters of the workforce had a stable factory job and family, and life was much more predictable than it is today. Mr Cameron’s crackdown will deal with none of their descendants’ worries. It probably won’t do much at all—because what is true in Ipswich is true elsewhere. Immigrants are not a drag on Britain’s welfare state. Most make few claims on it, as Mr Cameron should repeat like a mantra. He and his fellows are correctly grappling with Britain’s immigration neurosis, but they will achieve nothing by pandering to irrational fears. Assuredly, they will not spike UKIP’s guns.

Via https://www.facebook.com/ILoveImmigrants?ref=stream :

Even the British Red Cross are alarmed by the current inhumane rhetoric coming from politicians in the UK, they've prepared these facts to set things straight: http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Refugee-services/Refugee-facts-and-figures

We’re all familiar with the scare stories about asylum seekers ‘flooding’ the UK. But how do these tales of mass invasion stand up against the statistical data?

https://twitter.com/BritCits immigrant of the day :
Emile Levita,German financier migrant to UK in 1850s, britcit in 1870s,ancestor to @david_cameron


https://twitter.com/JamesTurner37 tweets :
Can it not be argued that complex legislation linked to absence of legal aid equals breach of right to fair trial for some?


https://twitter.com/MigrantChildren tweets :
Teachers shouldn't be immigration officers-our response to govt proposals re migrant children's access to education:


https://twitter.com/hjt_training tweets :
Can Theresa May suspend free movement of people if the Eurozone collapses? Short version: no. Longer version: noooooo

Muslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar's biggest city.


Sri Lanka crowd attacks Muslim warehouse in Colombo.



As liberal Russia's secret superhero ‘KermlinRussia’ unmasks, some see evil.


Despite bans, China's Uyghurs wear their identity with pride.


Regime critic goes missing in Tajikistan.


Student film on Japan's ruthless job hunt goes viral.


Voices in Europe claim: 'Europe for the people, not the markets'.


BST to reduce prisoners' sentences by one hour.

Lord Carey somehow mistaking 'not getting own way all the time' with 'persecution'.

A surprising map of the countries most and least welcoming to foreigners.

North Korea declares ‘state of war’ with South, netizens react.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Saturday morning

https://twitter.com/bmagnanti tweets :So I became a British citizen last week and was welcomed by... err, Jacqui Smith?

Very good article, and in return welcome to Telegraph readers who've found britcits.com through the link Dr. Magnanti has provided within the text.

... Many families whose applications came after the change have not been as lucky. Earlier this month a debate in the Commons heard evidence from British families split up by these new rules. Families that find, to their surprise, they have fewer rights to bring loved ones into the UK than other EU citizens living here do.

It's hard to square the circle when you live in a country that says it wants migrants to integrate, then does everything in its power to stop you doing that. I would have welcomed a visa interview that asked me questions about our marriage instead of my husband's income. I would have welcomed a citizenship class instead of an outdated and irrelevant test. Migration is a strong part of my family's history: as you can probably tell from my surname, we're not native Americans, either.

From start to finish this process has been expensive in every sense. Costing some £12,000 over the years, countless hours of stress and worry, and weeks - sometimes months - of uncertainty, never knowing if I would be allowed to stay even though the majority of my working life has been spent working here and paying taxes. ('No taxation without representation'… something my countrymen in the States went to war over. The irony was not lost on me.)

But that money, which I once would have grumbled could have bought another master's degree, has gained me something more than just the Tunnocks Tea Cakes and keepsake map of Scotland we received in the ceremony. The knowledge that the family we have made can continue to live here without fear of deportation. Now I can start planning a future beyond when the next visa ends, a real and lasting life with someone I love.

Previously by Brooke Magnanti -

Theresa May's immigration plan is a one-size-fits-none fix :

May writes the changes "will reduce the burdens on the taxpayer, promote integration and tackle abuse". This invokes a Britain of Littlejohnesque nightmares with borders easily infiltrated by sinister foreigners – a hilarious notion to anyone who's had to deal with the UK Border Agency's byzantine bureaucracy.

Britain's migration rules are tearing families apart :

Word is now starting to filter through as the first group of applicants find out their fate, that families are being split up and made to live apart. Regardless of how long they've been married before the application. Regardless of whether they have children.
For those new to this situation - the stories of some of those affected (among many) are chronicled here : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories

https://twitter.com/gerardhearne tweets :
Donna Oettinger (and Zackary) did not satisfy the income threshold, RIP.

That's the devastating toll of these rules for some.

Guide to free movement in Europe, the rights of citizens and their families. Essential reading for those going down the European path :

Also mirrored at :

Resources for those considering this route :

Family unity: the European way : http://jcwi.org.uk/blog/2013/02/07/family-unity-european-way
 ... by Chris Mead of http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/

Kabul girls’ boxing team refused UK entry for International Women’s Day.


The UK Border Agency in Delhi have, for the second time, refused entry visas into the UK for Sadaf Rahem, Fahima Mohammad, Shabnam Rahman. The three boxers were on their way to the UK to train and fight as guests of the foundation Women in Sport to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, the decision has been lambasted as ‘utterly ridiculous’ and ‘at odds with the ideals of the Olympic legacy’.

Via https://twitter.com/SalCardiff

https://twitter.com/ilonapin tweets :
"The government is scraping the barrel of morality in its attack on migrant children"

https://twitter.com/emilyfchurchill tweets :
Pope washes feet of young Muslim woman prisoner in unprecedented twist on Maundy Thursdayhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/9960168/Pope-washes-feet-of-young-Muslim-woman-prisoner-in-unprecedented-twist-on-Maundy-Thursday.html

https://twitter.com/britcits immigrant of the day :


Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Last of England, and BritCits meetup!

BritCits meet up on Monday 1st April (no joke) in London. Please join us - email britcits@gmail.com for details. Kids welcome! ( https://twitter.com/britcits )

The BritCits meetup site is here : http://www.meetup.com/britcits/

There is potential for at least one more meetup in April, as well as an event around the People's Assembly in June ( http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2013/02/peoples-assembly-against-austerity-launched-in-the-guardian/ ). Stay tuned. 


'The Last of England is an 1855 oil-on-panel painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting two emigrants leaving England to start a new life abroad.'

This does remind me of the situation many of those affected find themselves in. A literal exile of those forced to live abroad to be with their partners and families; and a psychological exile , a sense of rejection and isolation  from the country which gave us Brits life. No fair play here, nor any sense of the nation of family, of community.

We need to talk about citizens : http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens

For those who don't buy into inflated xenophobic rhetoric, it's a horrible feeling.

And yes, 'encouraging' emigration has been used as a tool of government policy before : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_history_of_Australia#Colonisation_and_settlement_by_Britain

 Hopefully of practical use -
Resources for those considering the European path to family unity : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/another-resource-for-those-considering.html 

A husband has vowed to take the fight to stop his wife and child being forced to leave the country to the European Court of Human Rights.

Neil Deane, 29, who is living with his Filipino wife, Emily, and one-year-old daughter, Lucy, at his mother’s house in Seymour Road, Preston, has launched his appeal against her extradition.

He is appealing the UK Border Agency’s decision to throw his wife out over a visa mix-up and expects to find a decision within the next three weeks.



https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
Great news! Odette Sefuko, campaigner against sexual violence, released from imprisonment in UK detention centre

Previously : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/todays-links-burnley-dad-wins-battle-to.html


Coalition policies set people against each other.


...That’s all she says about the immigration and visa service, nothing about family members planning to join their loved ones here, no word about students getting fair treatment, not a squeak about the renewal of Discretionary Leave to Remain which seems to us to be currently one of the slowest processes for a relatively straight forward decision. We would welcome a rise in the quality of decision making, but remain to be convinced as to how this will be achieved.


'The government is forcing me out because I married a foreigner'.


Businesswoman faces giving birth alone because her Japanese husband may have to leave the country under new visa rules.


David Cameron’s pledge to “control” immigrants’ access to public services has been dealt a major blow after one of his closest European allies described the plans as “unfortunate”.



https://twitter.com/NaijaHistory tweets :
This letter in @thetimes shows the fallout of daft UK immigration policies as pointed out by @DAaronovitch @jdportes


https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
NCADC news on deportation,protests for migrant justice across Europe,legal news & exciting events


https://twitter.com/nandosigona tweets :
49% of Americans say #immigrants strengthen the US because of hard work & talents, up from 39% in 2010


The Intercultural Garden.



No removals to Cyprus.


The Court of Appeal in the UK has very recently granted stays preventing the removal of asylum-seekers to Cyprus under Dublin II.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Today's links

People’s Assembly launched in the Guardian.


The assembly will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views which, while increasingly popular, are barely represented in parliament. A People’s Assembly can play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, including strike action. The assembly will be ready to support co-ordinated industrial action and national demonstrations against austerity, if possible synchronising with mobilisations across Europe. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will meet at Central Hall, Westminster, on 22 June.

https://twitter.com/OwenJones84 tweets :
All the People's Assembly suggested so far: unite all opponents of austerity; have local groups everywhere; meet in London on 22nd June


The UK Backlogs Agency?


For example, if we look at the Committee's report for the previous quarter, we see that the number of cases in the Agency's backlog actually increased. We could speculate that even 24 years could be a conservative estimate for the amount of time it might take for the backlog to be cleared.


https://twitter.com/tntmagazine tweets :

More sad examples of the big #UKBAballsup RT @SalCardiff: @tntmagazine please RT families torn apart by UKBA http://britcits.weebly.com


Japanese husband of UK businesswoman may miss child's birth due to visa rules.



Clerical error blamed for St Asaph-born husband's nationality mix-up.


A photographer has described how he was wrongly told by officials he was not a British citizen, and his Canadian wife could not stay in the UK.


Richard III's distant relatives threaten legal challenge over burial.

Relations say king should be buried in York and government's failure to consult them is in breach of human right to family life.


"Richard III is believed to have no living descendants. Any distant relations are therefore descended from his siblings. Statistically speaking, many tens of thousands of individuals alive today are descended in this way. There is no obligation to consult living relatives where remains are older than 100 years."


We are all related.


"No matter the languages we speak or the color of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who labored to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu."


After decades of apparently successful multiculturalism, many expect the government to keep Them away from Us.



The UK Border Agency: after four years, a car crash in slow motion finally comes to a stop

The agency that's caused so much misery and cruelty is to be restructured, but without proper resources its successor won't be able to avoid the same mistakes.



A Member of the Scottish Parliament has attacked the UK Border Agency treatment of gay asylum seekers as 'Kafkaesque', demanding too high a level of proof of their sexual identity or else be returned to countries where they face persecution.


Assessment changes by UK Border Agency has led immigrants fleeing persecution to even show film of themselves having sex.



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Gerard - the epilogue

Our good friend and comrade Gerard has now awoken from his #settlementvisanightmare, documented here : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/gerard , and here : https://twitter.com/search?q=%23settlementvisanightmare&src=hash .

However, as an epilogue of sorts, and in light of today's decision to scrap the UKBA, we submit two pieces of primary documentation :

Gerard's letter to Rob Whiteman, the soon to be former shogun of the UKBA : http://www.scribd.com/doc/132520547/Gerard-Hearne-to-Rob-Whiteman .

One rather feels that Gerard is channelling the spirit of Henry Root here... most amusing...

Our close ally Lord Avebury's ( https://twitter.com/EricAvebury ) somewhat terse note on the matter to the Immigration Minister : http://www.scribd.com/doc/132520722/Avebury-to-Harper

No doubt they get an avalanche of similar complaints every day because of the hoops they are demanding people go through to be reunited with their spouses. You may have succeeded in reducing the immigration numbers by a few hundred by making it so difficult to get family reunification visas, but I hope you realise the enormous personal cost of this ‘achievement’.

Alexis and Miad

Alexis and Miad are a couple divided by the UK's immigration rules. This is their story, in their own words :

'I MET MIAD in 2005, through shared interests online. We became good friends.

In 2007 we decided we wanted to become a couple. Miad is from Iran and I am Scottish. We were desperate to meet; so, in August 2008. after one year of being in an online relationship, I travelled 4000 miles to meet this man who I had fallen in love with.

I travelled with my two children (who at the time were 5 and 7) to Iran for a month. Miad didn't have a passport at that time and was studying at university (the Iranian government doesn't give males a passport until they have completed national service), so for us to meet I had to travel there.

We all loved every second of it. None of us wanted to come home! My son cried when we had to leave.

And while I was in Iran, Miad and I became engaged!

In June 2009 I returned, this time for three weeks. I travelled alone.

By now, Miad had left university and was working. In May, he had been called up for military service. We had planned to get married while I was there - but the Iranian officials didn't make it easy. I was told that after marriage, I would automatically become an Iranian citizen - meaning that I would effectively forfeit my British passport as Iran doesn't recognise dual nationality. I didn't like this idea, so instead we opted for a temporary marriage.

This was a possible solution because it is illegal to have a boyfriend/girlfriend in Iran (crazy in our society, I know)! So to prevent ourselves from getting in trouble with the authorities undertook a 'temporary marriage' for fifty years. We went through an Islamic ceremony, paid fees, and exchanged rings. I also had to convert to become a Muslim.

The temporary marriage thing was another step of commitment for us at the time. I returned home and in November 2010, my children and I returned to Iran to visit for a month. Miad's 20 month service would be up in January and then, we could think of a way for us to be together.

We had planned for Miad to join me in the UK. I have two children who have lives in the UK, as well as their father being in the UK, and I would not have them separated from their father. My children come first! So, we planned for Miad to join me in the UK when his national service ended.

At the time, I was studying full time. For Miad to join me in the UK on a spouse visa, I would need to leave college. I didn't want to give up my studies!  So, after some discussion we decided that the next step would be for Miad to study in the UK and come here as a student.

It took a while to collect the required funds for the visa and for the college fees - in fact we needed nearly £4000 in fees, and also he need to have £7200 in the bank for 28 days to show that he could support himself financially. It's hard to do that in a country such as Iran! But, with effort, he got everything he needed together. Furthermore he had to apply at the British embassy in Turkey (as there was no embassy in Irain) - more time, more money!

In June 2012, Miad travelled from Iran to Turkey and applied for his student visa. I travelled to Turkey for a few days to support him. Ten days after I returned to the UK - he received his refusal letter!

Why was he refused? Because the bank he deposited his money in was suddenly, through no fault of his, added to a blacklist! In May, he had been informed that the UK government accepted the bank he used, but suddenly it was blacklisted, wasting time, money and effort.

Miad complained to the visa consultant who had been helping him (provided by the UK college). The consultant apologised over and over and said he would refund his visa fee.  The visa adviser said Miad could make another application - instead of going back to Iran, he could simple send the money directly to the college. Miad asked if this was allowed. The consultant told him that yes, this was allowed. So listening to his 'expert' advice, he re-applied. And, surprise surprise, he was refused again.  Miad was hopping mad! Again,  he given a meek apology and a feeble excuse that it had been fine for other students. This visa consultant again refunded his visa fee - but by this time Miad was again out of pocket from living in Turkey!

Why was Miad using this useless man's services? Because he had been told by the college that, if Miad didn't use him and his application was refused, he wouldn't get his college fees refunded!

Miad went back to Iran in August. He had to get the money back from the college which he put in an approved bank and waited until he could, go for a second time, to Turkey - in September - and apply for a third time.

Thankfully the application was now successful!
But, in the meantime, the family migration rules had changed. Miad arrived in the UK in October and started college straight away. His student visa expires in August.

In January I had to give up college. I was never able to complete my course, which would have helped me with a better job, a better career, a better future - for all of us. Because of these rules I need to find a job now to support him. I am not worried about finding a job. I am worried because it's hard to find one that gives me £18,600 - especially as I've had to give up my studies!

We've been told we can try apply outside the immigration rules, under Article 8. I am not so optimistic.

I am on medication for anxiety and depression. I'm scared about what will happen if we have to be separated again. What will happen if he has to leave our family - his family?

The threat of state-enforced separation is hanging over us.

We feel we have waited all this time to be together - and soon it will be snatched away.

It's not fair. It's not right.'

More stories like this : 

Today's links

UKBA to be scrapped.



UK citizenship support test.


Try it!

Migrant voices wanted.


As politicians battle it out to appear the thoughest on immigration and the access to benefits migrants are entitled to, HOPE not hate would like to hear from the people being targeted. We are looking to compile a series of short articles and comments from migrant workers, overseas students and newly arrived immigrants about what they feel when the read the British press and hear our politicians? We want to know whether they feel that they are being unfairly picked on and scapegoated or whether they believe that the politicians have a fair point?

We would like to know whether the current deluge of anti-migrant articles and speeches is altering how people treat them on the street and whether they think it will put future migrants off coming to the UK.


“Dog whistle politics”: Tories in a muddle as anti-immigrant rhetoric backfires.


David Cameron was accused of “dog whistle politics” today after his crackdown on immigration unravelled spectacularly.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was dragged to the Commons after claiming “health tourism” was costing Britain £200million a year - 10 times the official estimate claimed by Downing Street earlier in the day.

Officials later claimed the figure was based on a decade-old report which they could not name.

Mr Hunt was forced to admit to MPs he did not know the extent of the problem but still insisted casualty units were “clogged up with people who may not be entitled” to free healthcare.

Is this the reason why? The Tories' dive to the bottom : http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/23/guardian-profile-lynton-crosby


https://twitter.com/britcits immigrant of the day :


EU migrants flooding over here…paying for our pensions.



https://twitter.com/EPinUK_edu tweets :
Interested in #immigration in the EU and UK? We've collected some papers for food for thought


https://twitter.com/BishopDudley tweets :
Been replying to emails and letters re #migration . Abusive binned. Other critics thanked with a response to their concerns. Debate matters.


https://twitter.com/DrEoinCl tweets :
Immigrants do not put too much pressure on the NHS. In fact, without immigrant workers, we probably would not have an NHS worth speaking of.


https://twitter.com/BenCooper86 tweets :
Of the 500,000+ Polish-born people living, working & paying tax in the UK, just 6,390 claim Job Seekers' Allowance:


https://twitter.com/NUSISCampaign tweets :
It has been 75 days since we submitted our FOI to the Home Office/UKBA on visa delays for international students. No response yet.


https://twitter.com/FrankSharry tweets :
How did we build an immigrant movement? We learned from gay rights advocates


https://twitter.com/BarackObama tweets :
"The dream became a possibility and the possibility became reality." —Tom K.


https://twitter.com/emmabmoussa tweets :
UKBA Arghhh just Arghhh you annoy me more than my little sister!


https://twitter.com/EricAvebury tweets :
Hooray! #UKBA is abolished, as I have suggested; responsibility rests fairly & squarely on the Secretary of State


https://twitter.com/APPGMigration tweets :
Backlogs continue to plague the Border Agency as it is found to have misled the Committee over controlled archives


The truth about immigration. Are foreigners jumping the queue?


The Coalition went into overdrive on immigration this week, announcing plans to put a stop to so called benefit tourism and ‘respond to the concerns of citizens’.  But what if the concerns of the citizens are misplaced?  And to what degree have these concerns been placed in the minds of the citizens? Today, we expose some of those inaccuracies and reveal the facts about immigration.


China's red army returns online and hunts students.



Ethiopians jailed for protesting Italy's 'butcher of Ethiopia' memorial.



Arrest warrant issued for Egyptian blogger for a Twitter mention.



Monday, 25 March 2013

JoJo and Loic

JoJo's and Loic's story, in their own words : http://www.scribd.com/doc/132317046/Jojo

It's a compelling and fascinating story, which deserves to be told by JoJo herself in full. Excerpts :

After University JoJo worked as a retail assistant to save enough money to go and volunteer in the Republic of Congo at a chimpanzee sanctuary, where she worked for six months to release orphaned chimpanzees back into the wild. This experience opened JoJo’s eyes to the terrible plight of chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa, who currently face enormous pressure on all sides from poaching, habitat destruction and huge global demand for raw materials. Upon returning to the UK JoJo was determined to return to Africa as soon as possible to continue working in great ape conservation. She again worked as a retail assistant in the UK for 6 months while she applied for jobs in Central Africa, until finally in January 2005 she was successful, getting a job in Gabon to set up a new chimpanzee and gorilla conservation project for the Max Planck Institute (MPI) in Leipzig, Germany.

Upon arrival in Loango National Park, Gabon, JoJo met Loïc: a Gabonese research assistant also hired by the MPI to work on the new ape research project. Loïc is a committed conservationist, previously working with endangered forest elephants, hippos and crocodiles in Gabon. He grew up in a village on the edge of Loango National Park and knows the area like the back of his hand. So in 2005, Loïc and JoJo began working in Loango with just two other staff, exploring the rainforests in search of chimpanzees and gorillas, estimating how many apes lived in the forest, and mapping an area of over 100km2 to document the swamps, savannahs and different habitat types. JoJo and Loïc lived in a remote and isolated tented camp with no running water or electricity, but they loved the work they were doing, and felt that a lack of creature comforts was well worth it. After 5 months working and living together day in day out in Loango, JoJo and Loïc’s relationship turned from that of colleagues into something more. They moved into the same tent, and despite spending all day in the forest together and having little privacy in the basic camp in the evenings, their relationship flourished in the remote rainforest.

[ ... ]
JoJo and Loïc are incredibly lucky compared to many couples in a similar situation. They do not yet have children and so are not enduring the pain of raising a family apart. JoJo is very fortunate to be able to earn over the £18,600 threshold to qualify for a Visa, and with her grandfather’s inheritance it will be very difficult for the UKBA to claim they cannot support themselves. Loïc did not even have to take an English test (and run the risk of failing it) because there was not a testing centre in Gabon. JoJo and Loïc are well aware that compared to others, they are very lucky and are likely to get a positive outcome to their appeal at some point in the future. But that does not stop them being filled with anger and frustration on behalf of those who don’t and may never qualify financially.

 JoJo's story : http://www.scribd.com/doc/132317046/Jojo

Today's links

Official Life in the UK practice test.


Try it!



FactCheck Q&A: How many migrants are on the dole?


As we pointed out in a previous FactCheck, benefit rules, strengthened by the government’s own recent reforms, are supposed to make it impossible for anyone to claim benefits for long periods without making an honest effort to find work.

Dr Scott Blinder from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory told FactCheck the high proportion of people with British citizenship or leave to remain could be a sign of how tough the rules already are.

Most migrants have to wait for substantial periods of time before they get to claim benefits. Many have to wait for years for the privileged immigration status that entitles them to DWP payouts, making “tourism” is an unlikely scenario.


David Cameron's immigration crackdown unravels.

A major crackdown by David Cameron on immigration was unravelling rapidly today after it emerged that it would only affect a small minority of foreigners in Britain.


(See FactCheck link above - because very few migrants in fact claim benefits).


UKBA condemned over backlog.


MPs say the UK Border Agency is still plagued by backlogs of unresolved immigration cases.

The Home Affairs Committee said it had been supplied incorrect data by the agency for six years, and "repeatedly misled" by former head Lin Homer.

Ms Homer, now the head of Revenue and Customs, said the accusation was unfair and untrue.

MPs attack HMRC chief over Border Agency failures.


Previously :


Hong Kong court denies domestic workers residency.


Hong Kong's top court has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency, ending a two-year battle that has split opinion.

The case had centred on Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a maid from the Philippines who has worked in Hong Kong for more than 17 years.

Domestic workers had argued that denying them permanent residency was unconstitutional.


The Prime Minister is playing right into UKIP's hands on immigration.


All in all, this is a cynical strategy by the Government which will prove divisive, inevitably increasing public fears about immigration rather than easing them. But the surefire outcome of today's speech was to achieve the next stage in the 'arms race' on immigration - a race that only UKIP can gain from.


The immigration debate: evidence-free and more rancid than ever.


The three big parties are pushing cowardly, populist policies as they compete to sound as tough as Ukip.


Spring edition of New Londoners is now available on line.

The spring edition of The New Londoners digital magazine can now be viewed at:http://tinyurl.com/tnl0313 and on its website: www.thenewlondoners.co.uk

This edition focuses on the debate about Britain leaving the EU as well as stories of migrants and refugees who are contributing to life in the capital city.


NY Times : Time to strengthen family immigration.


It might be hard to imagine that America’s long tradition of allowing immigrants to sponsor spouses, children and siblings for visas would be threatened. But anti-immigration groups and lawmakers have long attacked the practice, using the slanderous and misleading term “chain migration,” which summons images of a relentless flow of undesirables, usually from south of the border. Even as some of the staunchest resistance to reform is crumbling — legalizing 11 million immigrants was unthinkable for leading Republicans a few months ago, and now even rock-ribbed Tea Partiers like Representative Rand Paul favor it — right-wing resistance to family migration persists.

Geronimo : http://cheezburger.com/2515418368


They have been described as "invisible people" - asylum seekers who have been refused refugee status, but who have not returned home. The Home Office says it wants them "to experience an increasingly uncomfortable environment" so they will leave, but critics say that they are just being forced into destitution. Glasgow is the first city in the UK to criticise this policy officially.



https://twitter.com/britcits immigrant of the day :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Cohen_%28businessman%29 , founder of Tesco.


Small victory! Immigration minister promises UKBA improvements as shocking figures reveal 49% rise in visa waiting times



https://twitter.com/ebonyrosebuckle tweets :

Article in the London Evening Standard! Let me come home please! xo


Easter festivities.



Sunday, 24 March 2013


I was afraid something like this would happen, sooner or later.


Donna started to suffer from depression last April when her Egyptian boyfriend – Zaki’s dad, Mohamed Nasr – was not allowed to come and live in the UK because of Visa problems.

The angry friend yesterday said the tragedy should have been prevented. The pal, who did not want to be named, claimed: “It could have been avoided. It was waiting to happen because she has been let down, not by her family – they were the most supportive family – but by doctors and the NHS.


For those who are reading this, who are affected by the rules and may be considering a similar course - read this first :


If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes. I do not want to talk you out of your bad feelings. I am not a therapist or other mental health professional - only someone who knows what it is like to be in pain.


By way of introduction to those new here :

The family immigration rules in the UK : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/introduction.html

... Families are being broken up, couples are being torn apart, a generation of children are being brought up by single parents ...

Who is affected? Families broken up : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories

Valentine's Day : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/valentines-day-part-ii-one-of-britcits.html

Instead of restricting the freedom of migrants coming to Britain, she restricted the rights of Brits who want to marry people from outside the EU. There was a dribble of coverage in the press, but most still don't know that if they want to bring a foreign spouse to live with them they need to be earning £18,600 : http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/01/18/comment-how-the-government-breaks-up-british-families

Of course introducing rules which take away something as natural as the right of partners to live together, or of children to live with their parents, will cause tragedies. How could they not? Politicians, you were warned.

Welcome to your legacy.

https://twitter.com/JCWInews tweets :
The grim conclusion of Home Office splitting families - the hurt runs deep 




Nick Clegg: And we’ve changed family visas... To introduce a minimum income for anyone bringing over a partner or spouse.

Nick, shame on you. This is where this kind of policy leads. You should be ashamed.

Mr Clegg opened his contribution by saying that his mission was to maintain the UK as an open and tolerant country. Without any hint of irony he then said that the way to do this was by maintaining ‘zero tolerance’ of immigration ‘abuse.’



Britain will have the 'toughest immigration rules in world' after reforms, says minister.


And shame on you, too.


Viral emails protesting about financial assistance for "illegal immigrants/refugees living in Britain" - Commons Library Standard Note.


The House of Commons Library first became aware of the email in early 2010 but it has a much longer pedigree. It contains text from a protest email which has been circulating in Australia for some time now, but which may have originated in Canada. Versions also circulate in the United States, and elements even appear in protest emails as far afield as India. The UK version has been adapted, somewhat crudely, for a domestic audience by someone or some organisation unknown. The figures quoted bear no relation whatsoever to the situation in the United Kingdom.


Cabinet split on immigration as Vince Cable condemns net migration target.

Business secretary attacks 'enormous damage' that policy could cause, hours before party leader Nick Clegg is due to call for tougher measures on visa abuse.



Immigration fears are being stoked by politicians, says bishop.


A leading Anglican cleric has launched a powerful attack on the way politicians are exaggerating the negative impact of immigration, which he says is "wholly disproportionate" to the real threat.

A sane voice in insane times.

How do you fight the UKBA when they're wrong?


After my plea yesterday on Facebook for any advice or help regarding the recent devastating UKBA (UK Border Agency) decision to remove me from the UK based on what I see as a technicality, many people have requested more thorough details regarding my situation so they can offer further suggestions and pass along the details to others who may be able to help.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Newlywed is told he cannot bring his bride to the UK as Border Agency say he is not British - even though he was born in Wales.


A Welsh photographer has been told he cannot bring his new bride to the UK and may be forced to leave the country after the Home Office said he is not a British citizen.

The human cost when the UK’s immigration system gets it wrong :


https://twitter.com/britcits immigrant of the day :


Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Shock as Filipino wife faces being thrown out of Britain.


A father has said his family will be “torn apart” if his foreign-born wife loses a last- ditch fight to stay in the UK.


Man 'locked himself to car to prevent deportation of family'.


More : Instead of being protected, the Saleh family’s ordeal continued in the UK.



https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
Campaign updates March 2013: Marie Therese, Shahana, Odette Sefuko and Said Kassim


https://twitter.com/britcits immigrant of the day : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V._S._Naipaul


Introducing the BritCits MeetUp group, the newest province of the mighty BritCits empire : http://www.meetup.com/britcits/


Monday, 18 March 2013

Today's links

What hasn't been making the news from Parliament?


Since November 2012 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration has been tweeting about these ongoing developments under the @APPGMigration account. The main purpose of the twitter account is to highlight the ongoing parliamentary questions and debates happening in parliament, while also keeping news from the group’s activities in the twittersphere. The account has a mixture of followers from cross-party parliamentary figures, national news reporters, academics, trade unions, think tanks, businesses, to private individuals.

So what have been some of the recent developments within parliament on immigration which we’ve picked up on the APPG Migration twitter feed in recent months?...


Minister argues that Tier 2 of PBS might provide a solution to partners denied entry under family reunion rules.


A special adjournment debate on the new family reunion rules took place in Parliament last week, on a motion from the MP from Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy attended by several members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration.

Ms McCarthy explained that she is dealing with cases in her constituency where the family member sponsoring the visa application of their partner is a British citizen not in receipt of public funds, but earning less that the income threshold set out in the immigration regulations.

She cited the example of a British citizen who had lived in Thailand for ten years with his Thai wife, wife whom he had a son who was now aged three years.  He had been obliged to plan a return to the UK to care for his elderly parents.  He had hoped to move with his family but had encountered the difficulty that the new rule would prevent this because he had no earnings in the UK.

She cited two other cases with similar facts and asked Parliament to acknowledge that British citizens are increasingly working abroad or travelling for education purposes or to volunteer in charitable projects abroad.  It had to be anticipated that this would lead to the formation of new families and the rules which dealt with their return to the UK ought not to penalise people with the reasonable expectation of family life in the UK.

Here's the debate :


https://twitter.com/freemvntblog tweets :
High court is hearing an important JR tomorrow concerning legality of the controversial immigration rules about Article 8 (via @MalikZane)


https://twitter.com/BritCits tweets :
#Immigrant of day:@Mo_Farah born in Somalia,moved to UK age 8,spoke no English.Did #UK proud at @London2012 Olympics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Farah


An asylum seeker is facing deportation to Afghanistan despite fearing for his life if he is returned to his homeland.

Najib Hashimi, 18, has been in the UK since 2009 and lived with a foster family in Kent, who said his father and brother were killed by the Taliban.


Just in : Afghan teen Najibullah Hashimi given stay of execution from deportation.



The Government may offer 650 Afghan translators working for the British military the chance of sanctuary in Britain, officials have revealed.



https://twitter.com/migrants_rights tweets :
Our Weekly Immigration News roundup is out http://eepurl.com/wUv31


Ukip's heartland: immigration, the EU and clean toilets - video.




https://twitter.com/ncadc tweets :
Report,photos of Thurs demo at Home Office for Jackie Nanyonjo, who died in Uganda after brutal deportation from UK. http://www.aworldtowin.net/frontline/JackieNanyonjo.html


In a largely ceremonial vote, Xi was selected as expected as China's president with 2,955 votes in favor and three abstentions on March 14, 2013 during the 12th National People's Congress.

But one vote of dissent was counted among the tally, and the identity of the deputy who cast the vote was not released.



https://twitter.com/NelsonMandela tweets :
"There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children"



https://twitter.com/gerardhearne tweets :
I can't understand it, I tweeted the Pope re #settlementvisanightmare days ago and he STILL hasn't replied or reprimanded anyone.I can't understand it, I tweeted the Pope re #settlementvisanightmare days ago and he STILL hasn't replied or reprimanded anyone.