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Paulette Wilson has lived in the UK since she was ten. Now 61 years old, the UK Home Office is threatening to deport her back to Jamaica, where she has nothing and knows no one.
In October, Ms Wilson spent a week in Yarl’s Wood detention centre before being sent to the immigration removal centre at Heathrow, the last stop before detainees are flown out of the country. The only thing that saved her from this fate is the last-minute intervention by her local MP and a charity. She has now been allowed to go back home but must report to the Home Office in early December, still faces removal and her benefits have not been reinstated.
How could this happen? Has the Secretary of State lost all sense of perspective and, quite frankly, common decency? And what steps can a person in Ms Wilson’s position take to fight deportation?
Paulette Wilson’s story
Ms Wilson arrived in the UK in 1968. Her mother sent her to England for a better life. Ms Wilson lived with her grandparents and has worked, paid taxes, and made National Insurance contributions for 34 years. She has led a blameless life and is a mother and a grandmother. For a period, she worked at the House of Commons restaurant serving meals to MPs and security staff. Recently, according to The Guardian, she has volunteered at her local church, making weekly meals for homeless people.
Unfortunately, Ms Wilson is not alone. Many of the best immigration solicitors in London and migrant rights charities are being increasingly contacted by people who moved to the UK in the 1950s and 60s when there was no requirement to formally apply for leave to remain. Now, under Prime Minister, Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, many elderly people are being threatened with deportation as they have no documentation to prove they have a legal right to be in the country.
Earlier this month, the Maidenhead Advertiser advertised an urgent appeal on behalf of a 71-year-old homeless woman, originally from Sierra Leone who was facing deportation, despite having lived in the UK for over 50 years. The advert asked for former pupils of a Maidenhead school who may be able to prove the woman has lived in Britain since 1966 to come forward.
It is believed the two women, and many others in the same position have a legal right to stay in the UK because they moved here before the immigration Act 1971 gave people who had already settled in Britain Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The options available to you if you are being threatened with deportation after being in the UK for 50+ years
If you are in the same position as Ms Wilson, there are options available to you to fight any order for deportation. The most important first step is to contact an immigration lawyer in London to ensure you receive the best advice.
Option 1 – Appeal the deportation on human rights grounds
If you can establish you have a private and family life in the UK (and after 50+ years, most people have), you can appeal the Home Office’s decision to deport you on the grounds it breaches their obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on human rights.
The immigration rules, Part 13, para 390 lays down the factors the court will consider when deciding whether to cancel a deportation order. An application for revocation will be considered ‘in the light of all the circumstances’, including:
- the grounds on which the deportation order was made
- any representations made in support of revocation
- the interests of the community, including the maintenance of an effective immigration control
- the interests of the applicant, including any compassionate circumstances
It is important to note that in July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in R (on the application of Kiarie) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; R (on the application of Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)  UKSC 42,  All ER (D) 70 (Jun) that the government policy of “deport now, appeal later” was unlawful. This means the Home Office is now unable to deport migrants who can show they have a human rights claim until their appeal rights have been exhausted.
Option 2 – judicial review
If all other legal options have been exhausted, it may be possible to bring a claim for judicial review on the grounds that the Secretary of State’s decision to deport you was unlawful or unreasonable.
Permission to bring a judicial review claim is difficult to obtain. Even if leave is granted, proving illegality or unreasonableness requires expert legal advice and representation. However, given the circumstances surrounding these cases of people being deported from the country they have called home for half a century, a judicial review challenge may have a chance of succeeding.
The cases of people being pursued by immigration officials and stripped of their benefits and right to health care after paying a lifetime of taxes are truly shocking. Many of the victims, who are often from Commonwealth countries and came to the UK before the requirement to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain was introduced, are elderly and vulnerable. In Ms Wilson’s case, there is concern about the week she spent in detention. It is unlawful to put a person in detention without a realistic chance they will be removed from the country. Therefore, Ms Wilson, and others who have been placed in a similar situation may have a claim for damages against the Home Office.
If you are unsure of your right to reside in the UK, please get in contact with our highly regarded immigration solicitors in London. We can assist you with collating the documentation to prove your right to live in the UK and help you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and/or British Citizenship.
OTS Solicitors has been highly ranked in the Legal 500 for immigration and human rights. Our team has extensive experience in managing immigration appeals and judicial review challenges. Contact our immigration lawyers in London for the best advice and representation.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is Legal 500 leading firm. By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.
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Posted on: Friday, 01 December, 2017