I don’t mean to make light of the plight of the ordinary immigrants caught in the slow-grinding mills of the UKBA, but faced with a political climate where parties are competing to outflank each other to the right on immigration — If you want to join our government, you’d have to REALLY hate foreigners — they’ve managed to produce a year’s worth of absurd deportation stories in just a few days.
It’s hard to pick a favourite. First there was the American head teacher of a school in rural Scotland, married to a UK citizen, who was issued with a 28-day deportation order when he tried to replace his temporary visa with an application for permanent residency. (That one got resolved in his favour when the case provoked a crisis in relations between Westminster and the Scottish government, owing to the enormous difficulty of finding any qualified people who want to be head teachers in rural Scotland.)
Then there was another valuable worker, an Australian NHS therapist for children and adolescents who has been living and working in the UK for 9 years, also issued with a 28-day deportation order. And to round off a great week’s work undermining children’s education and welfare, the UKBA went right for the children themselves, sending a letter to a 7-year-old boy (whose mother is a British citizen), informing him that “you should now make arrangements to leave [the UK]. If you fail to do so voluntarily your departure may be enforced.”
Just yesterday, there was news that an asylum seeker who was nearly dead, after three months on hunger strike, had been summarily deported back to Nigeria on a private plane at great expense in order to make the point that the Home Office won’t be pushed around. Maybe they won’t, but they could at least have taken advice from the Foreign Office. Today, the news is that the plane and its passenger are back in Britain after 20 hours, having been denied entry to Nigerian airspace.
Well, at least they don’t assign their immigration agents with quotas to find sufficient numbers of harmless long-term legal residents who they can deport on a technicality, the way some countries do.