"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 28 January 2015

Darren & Kelly - Featured Family

“I feel completely ashamed to be British.”

Darren, a British citizen, is an only child.  Darren worked from the age of 16 until his mid 30s, when he was assailed by health issues.  Now Darren looks after his elderly parents, both of whom worked all the way up until retirement, whilst also dealing with his own medical issues which present a constant struggle.  Darren’s grandfather fought in WWI and two of his uncles fought in WWII, for freedom and against tyranny.  Yet this family is left feeling terrorised on a daily basis by their own government, only because Darren fell in love with Kelly, from USA.

Kelly has had a rough childhood, and while it’s not easy for Kelly to admit this about her family, counselling has helped her confront her demons.

Kelly was abused and even raped, by her own family who defines themselves as ‘born again spirit-filled Christians’, but have been fanatical in their treatment of ‘non-believers’ like Kelly who was not allowed to go to school, and for the first 28 years of her life, virtually locked up as a means of forcing her to conform to her family’s beliefs.  Kelly did involve the police who advised her to stay away from her family and having met Darren online, the rest as they say is history. 

US remains a place where Kelly does not feel safe.  She not only has no friends to whom she can turn for support, having been locked up as a child, her family have made threats that they will locate her wherever in the country she is.  Whether true or not, the threat alone has terrified Kelly of being imprisoned once again.

So Kelly came to the UK as a visitor for Darren.  Once here, returning to the US was not an option – there was no one there to go back to and Darren’s family welcomed Kelly with open arms. 

Once here, Kelly contacted the UKBA to explore her options, following which in December 2013, Kelly, Darren and his mum went together to Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon where Kelly was advised to claim asylum in light of her family situation and submit her passport.  A lot of confusion followed with the Border Agency unclear as to their own requirements.  When Kelly was interviewed by a Home Office representative who later on claimed they were a caseworker, Kelly’s solicitor remarked that the responses were cut short, the religious persecution Kelly was exposed to in the cult environment glossed over and there were clear omissions in the report from the actual interview.  Due process was not followed.

In April 2014, whilst attending the regular appointment to have her asylum papers signed, Kelly was detained and sent to Yarl’s Wood without any warning or reasons, despite Home Office being aware of Kelly’s fragile mental state and ongoing counselling.  This was eleven days before the couple was due to be married; everything was booked: venue, gown, cake, flowers etc.  The wedding day was cancelled.  

Home Office stated Kelly had not provided any evidence of her experience – but Kelly asks how could she have submitted this when she had never been allowed to?  At each interview she was told evidence would need to be given at a later time.

At Yarl’s Wood, Kelly was constantly told she could leave detention only if she volunteered to return to the US.  She was told that otherwise once they deported her, she would not be allowed in the UK for 10 years – a time period so long, it would render the couple biologically unable to have children; by voluntarily returning, she may just be able to return to the UK sooner.  There was no concern for what Kelly had been through, her reasons for claiming asylum and what her life would be like at the hands of her family back in the US.  The goal appeared to be to put sufficient pressure on the detainees to force to them ‘choose’ to leave the UK.

Kelly was held at Yarl’s Wood for over a month.  A messy battle was necessary to get her out of there, and that too on bail.  The couple did manage to go ahead with their plans to marry but continue to face a traumatic and expensive legal battle to allow Kelly to live in the UK with her husband. 

Home Office has decided Kelly no longer falls under asylum seeker rules, but the standard family immigration rules and the family is in the middle of appealing to the courts.  Meanwhile, Kelly is terrified she will be sent to Yarl’s Wood again.  The arguments made against Kelly being allowed to remain in the UK involve suggesting Darren leave the UK, with no regard for who will look after Darren’s parents, or the statement from a doctor that without the medical care Darren receives in the UK, his own lifespan will be shortened. 

Home Office states as part of their refusal that Darren and his family are not Kelly’s real family as they’re not blood relatives; that the couple can continue their relationship online; that no one in Darren’s family earns money.  All factoring in to their reason for refusal. 

They seem to not understand that financial situation does not factor in to an asylum claim, that Darren’s parents are elderly, that Kelly has not claimed any benefits and that as Darren receives a Disability Living Allowance, his spouse would in fact be exempt from the financial requirements anyway. There is no regard for Kelly’s occupation as a musician and writer, not only would she be working and paying taxes, but under UK immigration rules she’d have no recourse to public funds.  There is complete disregard for Darren’s health issues – leaving the UK would mean he would not be able to afford the testosterone injections thus hindering the couple’s chances of having a family, Darren’s parents becoming grandparents.  Leaving the UK would mean Darren’s quality of life would reduce, his bones would become brittle without the injections.  Doctors have even said cessation of the injections would shorten Darren’s longevity.  Home Office does not understand or does not care.

All this family wants is to be left alone to recover and move forward, yet the Home Office seems determined to spend an exorbitant amount of taxpayers money in what feels to this family like deliberate malice.

A message from Kelly:

What I feel makes this particularly unjust is that one of the reasons the Home Office give for removing the ‘unwanted’ is to prevent a burden on the tax payer. I would like to point out that through all of this I have never once claimed a penny from this state and never had any (or would have any) intentions of doing so. And yet, in detaining me, not only have the Home Office placed severe financial stress on my husband and his family, but on the taxpayer themselves as my detainment has been completely unjustified. It has cost everyone more money in the time I was detained than in all the months leading up to, and since then. Who at this point is causing unnecessary burden to the taxpayer?”

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