Like most people, I loathe Monday mornings. Even though I no longer work, I still loathe Monday mornings. I suppose it's the associated response deeply ingrained into my psyche after 48 years worth of Monday mornings. However, this Monday was worse than usual. Before I even took a first sip of my obligatory morning coffee, my phone pinged to tell me an email had arrived.
It was from my solicitor, telling me that they had received the response from UK Visa and Immigration (a department of the Home Office) to say my review has been rejected on the same grounds as they originally refused it. They have now also issued me my removal orders. (You can read more about my case here).
This was not the outcome I was hoping for, to be honest. Part of me had hoped that they would see sense in all of this and that they recognised the bureaucratic bungle they created back in 2008. By issuing me with removal orders, it is now official, as far as Home Office is concerned: I am without valid documentation. (I refuse to use the term "illegal" because people cannot be illegal. There is no such thing as an "illegal person". There are only people without valid documentation). This has all sorts of legal implications for me. For example, supposing I don't get banned from the UK, it will be in my immigration history and I will have difficulties coming in and out of the country from now on. This is just one of the many ways it will affect me in the future.
Originally, my solicitors had requested my removal orders because my right to appeal had been taken away when UKBA felt I didn't have leave of entry (permission to come into the country) despite having a visa that says I had the right to live and work here and a letter that said I could remain here once my ex- husband had left. When someone is issued with removal orders, however, a right to appeal is automatically triggered but at the price of being classified as an "overstayer". We were hoping that with the review, this could be avoided.
Now that my removal orders have been issued, though, I can lodge an appeal. And I have just SEVEN DAYS to do it. It took Home Office TWO YEARS to look at my application and in return, they give me seven days to appeal for everything i created in my my life over the last nine years.
I suppose I should be thankful though. On Monday morning, David Cameron was on Radio 4 talking about the new Immigration Bill they are trying to get through Parliament. Amongst the many unfair things they are trying to push through, they want to change it so that people like me cannot appeal from inside the UK. They want to "deport first, ask questions later". They want to change the law so that people like me become criminals and then deport us BEFORE a court hearing takes place. Surely that goes completely against the idea of "innocent until proven guilty"? Surely the harm done to all the good people who will be unfairly affected by these changes is not worth the damage it will do?
But do you know why they want to "deport first, ask questions later"? My guess it has something to do with the huge cost the appeals against absurd situations like mine is costing the government. Instead of investing in creating an efficiently-run department, they just boot us out in the hope that once we are out of here, we'll stop fighting. But I won't stop fighting this. I won't because it is unjust.
My whole story went public back in early November because I wanted my friends to know what it meant when they read the articles in the newspapers; I wanted my friends to hear about the "real life stories" behind the statistics. That has been the one constant in all of this ordeal - making people aware of the real life stories behind the vote-scoring anti-immigration propaganda that ALL the parties have signed up to. Those articles, those policies, that legislation result in stories just like mine.
And damn it, I will NOT have my life taken away from me because of some political agenda. I'm going to fight back tooth and nail for everything I have worked for over the years.
So if you haven't already signed and shared my petition, please do. I also ask you to leave a comment as I will be collating them separately to present to my MP and to present in court. My aim is to get a minimum of 10,000 signatures. You can sign it here.
If you have already signed and shared, please share again. If people are like me, they often miss things on FB because there is always so much going on. So maybe someone will sign now,
Many thanks for your support on this. I appreciate it.
Follow Harley Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarleyM65