Our Worst Nightmare at the UK Border Control.
By Yana and Luqman Onikosi.
On the 29th of August, the UK Visa and Immigration deported my wife and two children after refusing to allow my wife and children to enter the UK. My wife, who has been coming to the UK long before she married me on her Israeli passport, a passport which requires no visa, was stopped at the border and then detained at Heathrow.
The problem began when a turban wearing ethnic minority officer (this I will come back to), made a silly claim that our daughter has a Manchester airport entry stamp in her Israeli passport and my wife has none in hers. When my wife tried to correct him perhaps he missed a couple of pages when he opened her passport page, this immigration officer flared up, accusing my wife of having something to hide. Subsequently, she was subjected to a prolonged detention. Followed by several grilling interviews and then drew a conclusion that bore no correlation as to why they detained. The immigration officer said to her ‘we believe your husband is using you to gain residency. He married you to take advantage of you financially’. This broke me when my wife told me and asked me if it was true.
I mean, how can any marriage to an Israeli spouse entitles or make you a British citizen for heaven sake? Yes, my wife is very generous to me, spending all her money on flights to see me because of this bloody unending immigration case of mine which won’t let me leave the country. But why poison our marriage with a lie tantamount to make a mountain out of a mole hill?
If these things were said and done to my wife by white immigration officers, perhaps I won’t be so downtrodden like this. But these things were done by Black, Asian and Arab British immigration officers, with thick accents. Now, minorities are doing the dirty job of imposing white hegemony over the life minorities like them, with saddening live and let die attitude. What kind of cognitive dissonance could make a member of an oppressed group with similar history lose the ethical sense of the oppressed and forget how far he or she has come? These bloody sell out parasites. If not them, their parents were migrants.
Yana’s Detention in Heathrow Airport.
It’s not the first time me visiting in the UK but the treatment that I got this time from the border control and the immigration officers was outrageous!!!
My summer vacation with my two kids was supposed to be the best time before the beginning of this school year, it was planned a long time ago and the children were waiting to see the country, explore it and to have new wonderful experiences and to meet new people – my husband, for starts.
For all its worth, I was broken in pieces in a couple of seconds when a minority border officer took our Israeli passports and didn’t believe me for my reasons of frequently visiting so many times. It seems that he just wants to make us suffer and play the superior by using the power of his office, while in front of him there are 3 human beings.
We were taken aside for long time, waiting while he went to check my passport. After a couple of hours, we were taken into a small room. They search all our belongings, took our photos and fingerprints; just like the type they do to convicted criminals. After all of that, they put me and my children in a detention room waiting for the interview for hours. All our bags, phone and all other belongings were put in a different room and we were not allowed to use it, they gave us only one chance to place a phone call – making us feel we were the bad ones, treating us as a criminals (did I mention it already?), though, in fact, we hadn’t broken any rule at all!!!
My children were metionally and psychologically shell shock, stressed and confused. They could not understand why they were doing these to them in a country that they (my daughter and me) have visited many times before. What was very agonizing and confusing for them was the treatment we got despite our intention to visit the UK as remained the same as all of our former of visits. We had in our possession a return ticket and I explained that I have work to return to and that the children have school. So it was obvious we had any intention to stay.
Every time that I asked the immigration officers how long it’ll take to have any kind of information, I was told, “soon in 10 min”. 10mins turned to 5 hours waiting, then 7 hours, 12 hours etc. At this time they said to us that they were looking for a nice place to spend the night because they decided to deport us back to Israel for the next day.
They blame my husband for “using” me for his purpose to have the British citizenship and status, while I don’t have any opportunity or possibility or option to be helpful in his immigration case.
Our friend Jacob from Brighton Migrant Solidarity tried to help us out of this immigration nightmare and the outrageous racist attitude towards a woman with Black African husband.
While waiting in the detention room my daughter became unwell and started throwing up. I told the female immigration officer that was guarding us, her reaction was to offer some drink and food. The shift was changed and there was no update about the condition of my daughter.
When my husband called to the immigration to check what was going on with us and emphasized again to them that our daughter was unwell, that was when that the immigration officer on the new shift were unaware about it.
I told the new officers that her illness was becoming worse and that the vomiting is more frequent. Only then they suggested to call for the paramedic.
Finally, the paramedic came, his question was “Ok mam, what do you want me to do?” What about to check the girl to give her some kind of treatment to stop vomiting and dehydration – you’re the paramedic!! My inner anger just jump, what kind of statement is it? “Ok” he said, “I’ll do some checks, blood pressure, temp, sugar… ok I’ll give her paracetamol” – Great just do your fucking job. Where is your Hippocratic Oath? To give medical care and not to stand and look how the child is suffering!
I asked what about to give her a intravenous infusion that she won’t be dehydrated. His reply was, “No we don’t do that at this point only in hospital and only if the situation is worse”. He continues, “but to take her to the hospital, it’s not a good idea you’ll just wait there for long time and they won’t do nothing because in this situation there is no treatment only to wait”. Great! No help from the medical stuff.
After a while another immigration officer came with accusatory questions about why I’m not taking her to the hospital and accusing me of not giving the best treatment to my own daughter, argueing with me about what the paramedic said to me. Every time coming with ridiculous excuse there is no ambulance right now so you’ll need to wait. After her vomiting became even more frequently, I demanded to take my daughter to the hospital so they call for a taxi instead. We were instructed to come back to the immigration after we had been released from the hospital.
All of this cause so many troubles. It was a traumatizing, sad experience for all of us but mostly to the kids that were expecting to have a fun vacation and do loads of shopping in their favourite city in the world, London. I hate so much this Conservative UK government with its anti-human and humiliating bureaucratic procedures; a country that my daughter praises so much for the nice people, and the culture. She even had a dream of studying for her undergraduate degree after her high school in Israel. My daughter said to me ‘there are the finest universities in the world in the UK, but now the UK has lost a whole family that could contribute to the British economics through higher education and tourism by causing us this awful experience. They broke the dreams of a child’.
This disappointment caused a huge nightmare for the whole of my family and friends that were involved with us. I feel this ill – treatment was escalated not only because I pointed out to the turban wearing immigration officer because my White Priviledge (which I am not proud of) would have gotten me pass that. But crucially, because my husband was African and migrant. I draw this conclusion because they made me and my chrildren detention about my husband. Despite, I have my money to rent a hotel and feed us. This only prove to me that our detention and subsequent deportation could only be explained as a racist attitude towards ethnic minority migrants and their spouse whose ‘White Priviledge’ is contaminated by the virture of their marriage to Black person.
It really saddens me that most of the immigration officers that treated us badly were from a minority background. One could only imagine what this kind of treatment would do to a detained, innocent ethnic minority migrants when their own people are the one inflicting the pain!!!
We broke no immigration law and we were innocent. All of it only because we wanted to have a relaxing vacation and spend with my husband a good time.
I had never expected for this kind of treatment from the UK authorities!!!
This Sunday, the 30th we have the latest in our “those who eat together, fight together” series of meals and discussions. This month we are hosting the “support not separation” coalition to discuss the rise in forced adoptions and its disproportionate effect on women of colour, migrants and working-class women. It is a bit of a hidden scandal. It would be good to see you there.
This Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting a young man from Iran, Javad and his wonderful adoptive parents, Terry and Stuart. Javad’s parents were killed in the Bam earthquake of 2003. Javad was taken into an orphanage. At 12, he left Iran strapped the underside of a lorry and came to the UK. He was looked after by the care system and at 21 moved to Hastings.
He has lived there ever since. He has never had any form of leave to remain in this country, but you can’t deport orphans to Iran. That would be a breach of their human rights. Of course, now that he’s an adult, it’s totally acceptable for the UK government to expect him to return to Iran. Javad, Terry and Stuart are fighting hard for Javad to have the right to remain in the only place he can possibly call home. To compound the horror of being dumped in a country you have no real ties to, Javad is autistic. It is unimaginably cruel to insist that he has to start again in a country he last knew as a child.
Javad’s central problem is that there is no easy route to status. He’s too old to claim a right to a private and family life as a child of Terry and Stuart. He doesn’t have a partner or children of his own. What he does have is a family and a community who love him. His best chance is to persuade the Home Secretary, his very own MP, that his autism and the length of hisabsence from the country where he has no immediate family means that there are significant obstacles to him rebuilding what he has here in Iran. To do that, he needs all of our support. You have a few minutes, perhaps could sign and share his petition, 38 Degrees Petition, share his website, http://www.supportjavad.com , or even write him a letter of support, http://www.supportjavad.com/media.html.
Javad clearly struggled hard with social interaction. He is shy and nervous. This is not surprising given his life background and cognitive make up. What is, perhaps, surprising, is how warm and enthusiastic Javad is. It is clear that all Javad wants to do is take part in regular life in the UK. He is a fashion designer of some talent. He wants to run his own clothing label. He wants to help out with community projects and to be constructive member of society. We can only hope that the powers that be will give him the chance.
An off-shoot of the Make It Happen! Homes for Refugees art project has just popped up.
Space for All Estate Agency will be located, temporarily, on the corner of Hartington Road and Brading Road, BN2 3PD.
Come and take a look at our current sales and lettings, all are the result of a collective effort of creativity.
You may like our feature location, somewhere between Brighton and Calais:
We hear a lot about sham marriages, marriages contracted for visas, but marriage is a legal institution and all marriages confer legal benefits. We are having a party to explore the strange border that governs who can marry whom and why and to celebrate sham marriages everywhere. You are invited.
It is well-known that the border is not at the border. It is everywhere. All of us are being turned into border guards. People can be here without being here. It is the ‘legal’ justification for locking people up without trial. If they were recognised by the law as being here, the government not be allowed to do it. The NHS is an important battleground in the border everywhere agenda. Everybody needs healthcare at some point, but when you turn up in hospital, your immigration status is checked. This is ostensibly so the people ‘not entitled’ to NHS care can be charged for the services they receive. You might suspect that it’s more about undermining the principle of health service that is universal and free at the point of access. It is also quite clearly a way of identifying and deporting the ‘wrong sort of migrants’. It needs to be resisted. We will be having a communal meal this Sunday in the Cowley club with speakers from Sussex Defend the NHS and Docs Not Cops to share information and to plan our resistance. Remember, those who eat together fight together.