Migrants' Rights Network

Disabled British citizen with no documents held in detention for months

The case of Paul Tate, reported on my the Guardian, exemplifies the Kafka-esque proportions that immigration detention decisions can take. 

Paul Tate says he was born in Wales (Bangor) and has never left the UK in his life. Yet following his release from prison, he has been in immigration detention in Morton Hall for 4 months, with no end in sight, because he is unable to prove that he is a British citizen. 

A disabled man in a wheelchair (following a stroke), Tate suffers from diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. Considering the poor health record of detention centres in the UK, there is reason to be alarmed for Tate’s condition.

More broadly, however, Tate’s case throws up the difficulties created by lack of documentation in a country increasingly obsessed with individuals’ immigration status. Tate’s case thus follows the stories of Commonwealth citizens who are suddenly ask to leave after decades living and working in the UK, simply because they have no record of formalising their status. Tate’s case further illustrates human rights campaigners’ “concern that British citizens who may not have a passport are being targeted for removal by immigration officials.”

Tate is being slated for deportation to the United States, although he denies ever claiming US citizenship. Indeed, a request for the US to deliver emergency papers for his deportation led to a response that Tate does not appear to be a US citizen. It appears that Tate’s name was changed from that on his birth certificate when he was adopted as a child. His solicitor, Hamish Arnott (of Bhatt Murphy solicitors),  is working with members of Tate’s family to obtain documents to prove he is a British citizen.

Tate’s solicitor further stated said his client insists he is a British citizen with no connection to any other country and has never left the UK. “The notion of him being removable is fanciful. He is taking legal proceedings to obtain his release,” Arnott said.

Celia Clarke, the director of the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees, said: “The complete lack of oversight of decisions to detain and to maintain detention, coupled with the avowedly hostile environment, means that anyone with any perceived connection with any other country, be they long-term residents or even British citizens, is now fair game for detention and deportation. This is completely scandalous and the only way to stop it is to end detention completely.”    

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Fabien Cante

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