Paulette Wilson … the week of detention in Yarl’s Wood was the worst experience of her life. Photo Credit: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

‘I can’t eat or sleep’: the woman threatened with deportation after 50 years in Britain

Article in The Guardian
30 November, 2017

Sowing the seeds of division, instead of providing tools of integration is a recipe for disaster in the long-term. Trust and loyalty are slowly built and quickly lost. Identities formed over decades can be shattered in seconds. How can policy makers make such life-altering decisions without careful consideration of the precise particulars of each case? They are dealing with individual lives which are all different, not with boxes which can be process in identical manner.

“Paulette Wilson had been in Britain for 50 years when she received a letter informing her that she was an illegal immigrant and was going to be removed and sent back to Jamaica, the country she left when she was 10 and has never visited since…

Migrant rights charities around the country are increasingly coming across people who have been living here for 50 or more years – often people from the Commonwealth – who came to the UK when there was no need to apply formally for leave to remain. They have only recently encountered problems because they have no documents to prove their right to be here…

Unusually, Paulette was not given a document giving details of the Home Office’s decisions when she was released from detention. Ashwell, her caseworker, says he has requested it several times, but has had no response. He says he has dealt with as many as 40 similar cases of people who have lived here for decades, but do not have British citizenship. “It’s very hard to communicate with anyone in the Home Office,” he says. “It’s hard to get through on the phone and you never speak to the person making the decision because those numbers aren’t provided. You’re always talking to an intermediary.”

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