A woman who was separated from her family over an immigration technicality has spoken of her humiliation when border guards restrained her in public as she was removed from the UK.
Irene #Clennell describes how security staff wrote down every word she said – and guarded the door while she went to the toilet – on her journey from Dungavel immigration removal centre to Singapore, via #Edinburgh Airport.
"I was forcibly deported from the UK like a terrorist, restrained and under guard"
Clennell, 52, was removed from the UK on Sunday, after more than a month in detention. She previously had indefinite leave to remain in the country, but it lapsed after the couple spent years living in Singapore with their sons and later alone caring for her dying parents.
Allowed back in on a six-month visa in 2013, she had overstayed its terms while caring for her husband of 27 years, John, who last year had femoral artery bypass surgery and suffered a subsequent hernia.
Clennell’s case has become emblematic of the government’s hostile approach to migrants. Activists have told the Guardian that her’s is far from an isolated case; people can be removed or deported even if they have effectively lived in the UK for practically their entire lives.
“Everything that took place last weekend was the latest step in a long story of an immigration system that provides no adequate support to claimants, and does its best to treat honest people like liars and thieves,” Clennell writes.
Home Office facing a backlash?
Outrage over the Home Office’s treatment of Clennell has spread worldwide, with newspapers as far afield as Spain, Singapore and the United States telling her story. Clennell, who is staying in a cramped apartment with her sister and three nephews, paid tribute to the help and support she had received from the public, who have raised more than £50,000 through a GoFundMe appeal to help fight her case.
“I am hoping to lodge an appeal against my deportation, which I believe has been conducted secretly, inappropriately and with little due process,” Clennell writes.
“Above all, I would appeal to all those who have made ‘migrant’ a term of abuse, to think about the human cost of their actions. Wanting to build a life and a family, and to be around people and places that you love, is not a crime.”