"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.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Deportation of the valuable and vulnerable

Recent weeks have seen the media cover a number of cases in which the Home Office has unfairly threatened non-Brits living in the UK with deportation.

From a Fijian British Army veteran who was unaware he had to apply to settle in the UK to a highly-skilled Australian NHS therapist who was given days to leave the country, it seems neither valuable nor vulnerable migrants are safe from the overzealous Home Office when it comes to removals based on technicalities.

In some instances, the decision to remove is overturned at the last minute, often without an apology for the distress caused. However, we are increasingly seeing victories against deportation come about when the Home Office cracks under the pressure of public outrage rather than through any common sense or realisation that the deportation would be unfavourable to the public good.

Home Secretary Theresa May herself intervened in the case of Fijian Filimone Lacanivalu who was detained for more than a month after queries over his immigration status emerged. He has since been granted the right to settle based on his nearly decade-long service to the Armed Forces.

Scottish head teacher David McIsaac, who was initially refused the right to remain permanently on the grounds his five-year marriage was a sham, has been offered an extension on his stay on the condition he drops his appeal after his MSP put pressure on the Home Office.

Then there is the case of Vietnam War veteran Marx Hirsch, 74, who has lived in the UK for nearly 50 years. Threatened with deportation for breaking the terms of his right to stay by moving elsewhere for five years, Hirsch won a stay of execution just days before he was scheduled to be removed but still faces the prospect of removal should a review of his case not result in him being granted the right to settle.

But for each of these success stories, there are many thousands more which don’t result in extensions of stay or wide media coverage.

Take the case of UK-born Cher Siyamuanya, just 4, and his mother from Zimbabwe who were sent separate letters saying they were liable to be removed after the courts found her claims that she would face persecution if returned to her country of origin unbelievable.

And let us not forget the case of Harley Miller, an Australian NHS worker who was given less than a month to leave the UK despite having been a resident for nine years. Miller, having first entered on a spouse visa, was given leave to remain after her marriage broke down but was later refused discretionary leave to remain after waiting two years for a decision on her application.

Lastly, a seven-year-old Canadian, Jamie Leung, received a letter telling him to leave the UK. His British mother, initially unaware she needed to obtain a visa for her son to stay in the UK, was unsuccessful in obtaining legal immigration status for him from within the UK before the letter arrived.

While there are cases where falling foul of bureaucratic red tape might fairly result in removal, some of the recent cases which have made it into the limelight have seen a threat of removal issued without any prior request to the applicant for further information or evidence. Often no other options are given to those who face leaving their friends, family, job and property behind.

Most people who unknowingly fall foul of the UK’s complex immigration rules want to establish the right to stay voluntarily and play by the rules. The inhumane way the Home Office handles some cases is counterproductive since deportation should be something that is conductive to the public good, not just a case of hunting down those who slip up on technicalities.

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