Sitting in Limbo is the dramatisation of the story of a man named Antony Bryan. He came to the UK at the age of 8 and spend the next 50 years of his life resident in the UK. Antony’s mother worked in the UK as a nurse for many years. Whilst in the UK, Anthony got married, had children, and even had grandchildren. He was a hard-working and law-abiding man with no criminal convictions, as well as an established social circle of good friends in the community.
Anthony’s seemingly normal life was brought to an end when he applied for a British passport. That marked the beginning of his misfortunes and misery. Whilst at work, he was summoned by the management at his office, who told him that they had to let him go because they had received a letter from the Home office regarding his immigration status in the UK. This news came as an utter shock to Antony as he believed that there had been a mistake that would be rectified by simply visiting the Home Office.
When he went to the Home Office and he was astounded by the appalling manner in which he had been treated by the Home Office staff. They treated him with no respect, no clear explanation was given about his predicament, instead, he was shoved from one office to the other and he had to repeatedly state his case to everyone each and every time he went into an office.
Despite providing the Home Office with all the requested evidence, the Home Office kept unnecessarily requesting new information, including information such as a copy of his mother’s passport, which was supposed to have already been on their records as it would have clarified the date of his arrival in the UK.
On two occasions he was detained by the Home Office and subsequently issued a deportation order. Thankfully with the assistance of his solicitors, Antony obtained an injunction to prevent deportation and eventually received and received confirmation of his British citizenship. Antony’s family then embarked on a coordinated public campaign which ultimately revealed that his predicament had not been an isolated incident. Instead, it opens a huge can of worms and exposed how many immigrants from the Caribbean who have now come to be known as the “Windrush Generation” had historically been treated so cruelly and inhumanely by the Home Office, leading to subsequent unjustified deportations of hundreds of them despite them being entitled to British citizenship.
The government since 2007 has subjected immigrants to a hostile environment. The aim of this policy is to make the life of immigrants so hard that they will elect to leave the UK. In line with this, the government has made sure that “illegal” immigrants cannot drive in the UK, access NHS, rent a house or open a bank account. This has left many people even with children, destitute and living in precarious conditions.
The government has streamlined who can access Legal Aid. Most groups of immigrants do not have access to Legal aid and thus they fail to present their cases to the Home Office and to the courts with legal expertise. For those cases that qualify for legal aid, such as asylum cases, cases involving victims of trafficking, children and domestic violence, the remuneration by the government is so low that practitioners tend to shun them. Antony’s family had to seek outside help to meet the legal costs.
The majority of Home Office staff tend to be professional and are often themselves victims of the system. They are required to meet certain targets even if they turn to be unlawful. The Home Office treats individuals as mere numbers whilst disregarding their personal wellbeing when it comes to handling immigration issues and some of the Home Office staff are so unprofessional. Antony kept asking questions but no one was giving answers. In most cases similar to his, individuals are treated as guilty until proven innocent. The officials he dealt with were stone-faced, stern, unhelpful and lacked empathy.
The system had been set up to break him down and ensure that he eventually voluntarily returns to his country. At one point he did resign to giving up but thanks to his family, they helped him put up a fight. Despite the UK having become Antony’s home, the system regarded him as an immigrant and rejected him.
The Windrush scheme was established to help those from the Windrush generation that had been subjected to such inhumane, illegal, and appalling treatment by the Home Office. Despite this scheme being in place, very few victims from the Windrush generation have actually received assistance. The Home Office often requests evidence such as proof of arrival in the UK and prolonged residence in the UK, which is difficult to obtain due to the lapse of time spanning decades.
Very few people have been compensated for such dreadful treatment and many still live under harsh conditions. The government often publicly says one thing and does the opposite, and often say the right things publicly. It is unfortunate that many people have already been unlawfully deported. The emotional distress and traumatic experiences have left some victims suffering from lifelong stress-related conditions such as depression and high blood pressure.
The main lesson is that, should you be facing similar challenges with the home office, you must never give up the fight until you get the justice you deserve. Despite the previous refusals from the Home Office or the Immigration Tribunal, if there is a new or change of circumstances continue to make further submissions. The new circumstances may be for example:
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It is important to seek legal advice pertaining to your immigration case. At Tann Law Solicitors we can assist you with your immigration matters.
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