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UK Government rejects meeting on residents threatened with deportation

The UK Government has rejected a formal diplomatic request to discuss the immigration problems being experienced by thousands of British residents threatened with deportation to several countries, including Jamaica, which they left as children and have not returned.

The request was made for the matter to be discussed at this week's meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government to be attended by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Downing Street has rebuffed a request from representatives of 12 Caribbean countries for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.

A report in Sunday's issue of the Guardian newspaper says the refusal has given Caribbean diplomats the impression that the UK government is not taking a sufficiently serious approach to the problem that is affecting large numbers of long-term UK residents who came to Britain as children.

Some have been threatened with deportation to countries they left as children 50 years ago. Others have been denied access to healthcare, lost jobs or been made homeless because they do not have sufficient paperwork to prove they have the right to be in the UK.

The Guardian says Downing Street acknowledged that a request had been received from the Caribbean high commissioners and confirmed that a meeting had not been scheduled.

Although the subject is not on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting agenda, officials said there would be a number of opportunities for the heads of delegations to meet the prime minister and discuss the issue.

Seth George Ramocan, Jamaica's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, has said he will be seeking to raise the issue despite the lack of a formal meeting, bearing in mind that there are senior citizens whose lives are in limbo.

What to do

In response to the emerging concerns, the UK Home Office has issued a guidance summary of  what Commonwealth-born, long-term UK residents should do if  they were concerned that they do not have the necessary papers to prove their right to be in the United Kingdom.

The guidance acknowledges that problems are only now beginning to arise because of  newly tightened immigration rules.

It said the recent changes to the law mean that persons who wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK will need documents to demonstrate their right to be in the country.

The Home Office said no one with the right to be in the UK will be required to leave. Charities working with people in this situation expressed frustration however that the government continues to suggest that individuals seek legal advice.

The Guardian reports there is growing awareness of  the problem, which may affect thousands of  people who came from Commonwealth countries as children, often travelling on their parents' passports, who have never formally naturalised.

Although anyone living in the UK continuously since before January 1,1973 is legally entitled to live there, people who have not applied for passports may struggle to prove that they are entitled to be in the United Kingdom.

Some people moved to the UK before the countries in which they were born
became independent, and assumed that they were British.

The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates that about 50,000 Commonwealth-born residents of the UK, who arrived before 1971, may not yet have regularised their residency status and could be vulnerable to these difficulties.

Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness will in London this week for the Commonwealth Heads of  Government Meeting, and he will meet with Prime Minister May.

The Prime Minister will also be received by the Queen at Buckingham Palace during a private audience organized for Heads of Government who have taken office since the last Commonwealth Heads of  Government Meeting in 2015.



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