"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"A lawyer is either a social engineer or he is a parasite on society." - Charles Hamilton Houston.
"... the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely – because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress." - Barack Obama.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Please come to the official launch of the Love Letters to the Home Office book.

With stories from the book, insights from immigration experts and activists and a manifesto. 

Details from the organisers below :

Launch event: this Monday 28th April!

The launch day schedule is as follows:

5pm-6pm We meet at the Home Office (2 Marsham Street) and deliver love letters, copies of the book and the current petition.
Here's a link to the petition for those interested in signing:

6pm We walk the 3.2 miles to the launch, past the Royal Courts of Justice and finish at the launch venue in Angel. En route distribute handouts to the general public with a love story on one side and what they can do to get involved on the other side. 

7.15pm-9.15pm Launch event at Coffeeworks project in Angel.

During the event, speeches will happen, and 3 separate readings of a limited number of stories will take place.

There will be an online event at the same time so all those involved who are not able to be present at the launch can attend the online launch... And thus be together that way. :) 

Please rsvp to katharine@lovelettershome.org letting us know if you are able to be at either the online event or the London event, and if you are available, coming to the Home Office for 5pm, which will make a massive difference.  (If you are not in London, you might consider going to your local British Embassy or another government building to deliver your love letter.)

This is an open event and you are invited to bring as many guests as you wish, just let me know numbers.

We are looking for someone with a good fast internet connection who is internet-savvy to host the online event.  If you are interested in being that person, please let me know.  

Love Letters available on the Amazon site

Don't worry about the fact that Amazon is currently saying 'out of stock'.  The book is set up to print on demand, so as soon as you order a copy, it will be printed for you!  (Also, the title currently is displaying incorrectly ("loveletters" rather than the correct two-word "Love Letters") and they aren't yet displaying our beautiful book cover.  Those issues will be ironed out next week.  

The book is priced at £4.50, so that as many people as possible can read it, without cost being a factor.  

We encourage people to consider buying copies to send to a local MP, newspaper editor, etc and enclosing a personal letter too.  Sharing our stories with individuals can make a massive difference.  (The reason that Love Letters was in the Guardian and Newsnight are currently filming some of you is because I shared about our project with people at work and at my friend's birthday party.  The more we talk about this, the more we create change.)

- Katharine

Facebook event - please share :

Love Letters to the Home Office :

Previously :

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Syrian dad appeals to British Foreign Office to reunite him with his son


'Wael Zain, a Syrian living and working in London, has turned to Twitter to draw attention to the plight of his five-year-old son, Maudh, who holds a British nationality, and who has been stranded in Syria for three years.

Wael has not seen his son in three years :

'In a series of tweets, Zain explains that his son, whom he claims was recently shot at, is with his mother in a village in Deraa, and needs medical attention. He also claims that the British Foreign Office has turned a deaf ear to his ordeal. '

Follow Wael :

This situation is very similar to Christine's and Ziad's (now happily reunited) :

... and Shafik's and Nusrin's :

... this is a disturbing trend and questions must be asked here - the embassy must act in the interests of the British citizen.

Monday, 21 April 2014

"Them" and "Us": The damaging rhetoric of immigration 

Guest post by Judith Vonberg

Where do we get our ideas about other nationalities, other religious groups, other ethnicities? It’s a complex question with no less complex answers. My current research looks at British and German popular culture just after the Second World War. I wanted to know what ideas about the former enemy were in circulation in each culture and how those ideas changed as the conflict retreated.

I’ve recently made a curious discovery. The ideas about Germans that dominated popular culture and popular opinion in the 1950s are strikingly similar to the ideas and opinions currently dominating British views about migrants.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Good news: Home Office reverses decision to refuse visa to Jamaican woman wanting to donate kidney to brother


'The Home Office has reversed its controversial decision to refuse a visa to a woman who wanted to come to Britain to donate a kidney to her seriously ill brother.

'Politicians, religious leaders, migrants’ groups and journalists had urged the department to allow the potentially life-saving visit to take place.

'Oliver Cameron, from north London, has been unable to work since suffering a near-fatal renal failure in 2012 and needs a kidney transplant to avoid daily dialysis.

'After his older sister, Keisha Rushton, was found to be compatible, the operation was arranged to take place last October.

'But when Ms Rushton, who lives in Jamaica, applied for a visa, it was rejected by the Home Office on the grounds that she might not return home.'

#KidneyVisa : https://twitter.com/search?q=%23KidneyVisa&src=hash&f=realtime


.... “There is a fault if a system can’t allow compassion. I'm grateful the authorities have seen sense, but it’s been a long road to reach this decision.”

Saturday, 19 April 2014

"I fled my country because of the persecution I received because of my activism against FGM"


Via https://twitter.com/Refugees

BBC Newsnight : 'Fear of female genital mutilation (FGM) is grounds for seeking asylum in the UK, but campaigners say that hundreds of women have had such applications rejected. Newsnight's Sue Lloyd-Roberts spoke to two women from The Gambia whose applications failed, and travelled to their home country to test their cases on the ground.'


Friday, 18 April 2014

Swedish plane passengers stop man's deportation by refusing the buckle seatbelts


'A Kurd fearing persecution in his home country of Iran, Ghader Ghalamere fled the country years ago and now has two young children with his wife Fatemeh, a Swedish resident.

'As a result he qualifies for a residence permit himself – yet because of a quirk in immigration laws he is required to apply for it from outside Sweden.
'I served my country. Then it kicked me out.'


An immigration nightmare from America, where deportations are running at record highs ( http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/obama-administration-tops-its-own-deportation-record/ ).

'I was a veteran, a father and husband and a small-business owner. Then I was deported. '

'I often think about Friday dinners with my family. Every Friday, no matter what, my wife and I took our two children out to eat; it was a ritual we looked forward to all week. We would sometimes try new restaurants, but my children’s favorite was the Olive Garden. My daughter loved to order Shirley Temples and my son always wanted whatever I was having, so I’d order two of the same meal for us.'
Politics.co.uk : Immigrant stories: The British citizen who was stripped of her passport


'The holiday wasn't supposed to last long.

'Jean Gander had travelled back to Zambia, where she grew up, to visit family. She couldn't have known that 15 months later she would still be there.

'She is still there now, trapped with her two children in a bureaucratic nightmare....

Immigration tribunal told to reconsider allowing child needing heart operation to stay in UK


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Petition: Please grant Oliver Cameron's sister Keisha Rushton a temporary visa to allow her to donate her already matched kidney to save her brother's life


'UK Visas and Immigrant are refusing entry of a matched kidney donor for British citizen Oliver Cameron. Without a transplant Mr Cameron, who suffered from near fatal renal failure in December 2012 could expect to lose 12 to 20 years of life if he remains on dialysis.'

'When your kidneys fail your two options are dialysis or a transplant.  Dialysis is capable of about 10% of the work of a functioning kidney and because of its effects on the body can result in serious complications. Jamaican Keisha Rushton wants to give her brother the life changing donation of her kidney which will release him from the daily grind of renal dialysis.'

'Patients who receive a transplant typically live 12 to 20 years longer than dialysis patients.  Keisha Rushton is a matched living donor for her brother and is desperate to save his life.

'It is a brave decision for Ms Rushton to visit the UK to save the life of her brother, in addition to the typically 3 months time it takes for a kidney donor to recover assuming no complications, Keisha has a business, a fiancé, seven children and an elderly mother at home in Jamaica whom she needs to return to once this donation has been made.'

Previously -
#Kidneyvisa : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/kidneyvisa.html

The perfect kidney match - but not for the Home Office. Would you give up a kidney just to get into Britain? :

Petition via https://twitter.com/HackneyAbbott

Also spotted on Twitter - 'It really comes to something when we have to petition to allow a kidney transplant to take place.'
Lesbian asylum-seeker sentenced to death

'Aderonke's family was killed and she was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death in Nigeria – because she's a lesbian. She fled to safety in the UK.

'Now, they're trying to send her back into danger. Aderonke, like dozens of other LGBT asylum-seekers, is stuck in a process that the UK government has already admitted humiliates and abuses them. It doesn't work or protect anyone.

'But, if thousands of us speak out right now, we could get the Home Office to take the next step and halt the deportations. Will you sign the petition to Home Office Secretary Theresa May now?'

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Family separated due to ‘callous’ immigration rules


'‘Callous’ immigration rules have left a family separated by thousands of miles because a woman’s health prevents her earning more than £18,600.

'Scott Henderson has not seen his son Alex, 11, for two years.

'He is prevented from rejoining his family in Lakenheath because his wife, Leighsa Henderson, is unable to meet the Government’s financial requirements.

'Leighsa, 42, said: “Alex really missing his dad. He’s old enough to realise how long things are going to be.

'“It’s difficult having your partner so far away when they could be there to support you.”

Leighsa's story was previously featured here :

... is the hashtag being used to track this story :

'Woman refused entry to Britain to give her brother a kidney' :

"By taking a donor from within my family, we're ensuring that another organ could go to someone else. But the system is not built to take these things into consideration. From what I have seen, it's built to keep people who want to do good things out."

Letters: Bar on brave kidney donor disgraces Home Office :
Dinnae deport oor Arbroath Angie

'Please help @Angela Faye from being deported back to the USA without her 13 year old British citizen daughter. '

Angela, who was featured here a few days ago, has a great Facebook and Twitter campaign going - please do support her (and her family and friends) by liking, following, and sharing their pages :



Angela says :
'I'm the American mother of two UK citizens and have lived here in Scotland with them legally since 2007.
Harsh but fair?

Sent by a friend.

I'll only say this - the it's quite unfair to blame the civil servant for this. My own perception - and the perception of many end users - is that the system is set up to be bureaucratic, unfriendly, inefficient and expensive to the user. The phrase 'trial by ordeal' crops up again and again.

See :
Our bureaucracy tag  :

The Chief Inspector of Borders : 'Such was the inefficiency of this operation that at one point over 150 boxes of post, including correspondence from applicants, MPs and their legal representatives, lay unopened in a room in Liverpool.' :

'Backlogs hit half a million at immigration service' :

'Shambles: The Home Office numbers which don't add up' :

''8,000 potential illegal visa 'overstayers' have (already) left UK' :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23187320 & http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/through-post-following-missive-arrived.html

etc. etc.

For amusement - 'Immigration as a game: 'Papers, Please' makes you the border guard' :

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The perfect transplant match – but not for the Home Office: Would you give up a kidney just to get into Britain?


'Oliver Cameron tells Cahal Milmo how the heartlessness of Britain’s immigration policy is preventing his sister’s mercy mission from Jamaica.

'When Oliver Cameron made the difficult phone call to his family in Jamaica, to explain that he needed a donor for a life-changing kidney transplant, his elder sister Keisha Rushton did not hesitate. She told him: “You are the only brother I have got. I love you. Let me do this for you.”...

'... Despite the risks, Ms Rushton, a mother of seven, decided to sacrifice one of her two healthy kidneys for her younger brother living on the other side of the world, and applied for a visa to come to London to undergo the NHS operation.

'Mr Cameron, a plumber who has been unable to work since suffering near-fatal renal failure in 2012, borrowed £700 he could ill afford to fund her visa application, excited at the prospect of a future without the gruelling order of daily dialysis and being able to once more earn a living.

'While most people would have seen Ms Rushton’s request to visit Britain as the fruit of filial love and an admirable self-sacrifice, that was not how it was seen by those at the Home Office in charge of applying Britain’s draconian immigration rules.

'Inside was a letter bluntly telling her that she had been refused entry to Britain because she could not be trusted to return home. She had been unable to provide evidence to officials of her income in Jamaica and thus prove she would return home after the operation, the refusal notice said.'

Family values?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Is putting applications on hold an attempt to prevent people's right to appeal!

Hidden away on page 7 of the Statement of Intent: Family Migration  June 2012 before the new rules came in the following appeared.

"19.  The 2011 family migration consultation also consulted on whether the full right of appeal should be retained for the refusal of a visa to visit a family member in the UK. In the light of the consultation, the Government has decided that it should not. The Crime and Courts Bill, published on 11 May 2012, contains provision to abolish the full right of appeal.

A limited right of appeal will remain on human rights and race discrimination grounds. Subject to Parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, this provision is expected to be implemented by 2014."

So Is the act of putting so many applications on hold a delaying tactic to bring the decisions under a new law that abolishes people's full right of appeal?


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Aldeburgh: Support grows for teacher and his Russian wife split by visa row


'Support is mounting for a teacher’s battle with immigration officials to reunite his family at their Suffolk home.

'Yesterday, this paper reported Charles Tait’s bid to convince the Government to allow his Russian wife, Eugenia, back into the UK after she was twice denied entry on a visitor’s visa.

'Since then, supporters of the Taits’ plight have added their signatures to an online petition, while an offer of legal assistance has come from a London immigration lawyer.
Bletchingley man is forced to live 7,000 miles from his wife - because he's too poor


'A COACH driver is isolated 7,000 miles apart from his wife – because he does not earn enough for her to return to Britain.

'Ian Crabb married his Filipino bride Doricel in 2009 in her home town, following a drawn-out wrangle over her visa.

'She came here three months later to live with him in Bletchingley.

'They settled down in his flat in Barfields, and his new wife then earned a living locally as a carer in a nursing home.

'But two years ago, 29-year-old Doricel went back to the Philippines for a while, to support her sister with her new baby, and now she finds she can't return here due to her husband's low income...'
Refugee Action : Bring back dignity to our asylum support system


'You can help us bring back dignity to survivors like Vianney, Koroush and Clara.

'Join our campaign now and show the Home Office that enough is enough – the unjust poverty facing thousands of asylum seekers must end.

#bringbackdignity : https://twitter.com/search?q=%23bringbackdignity&src=hash
Arbroath mother shocked by deportation order


'Angela Smith, mother of two and active member of the Arbroath community
, has received shocking news from the Home Office urging her to leave the country immediately.

'Born in Ohio, Ms Smith has lived in Arbroath since 2007 and has had an ongoing battle with the Home Office around gaining permanent residence.

'“This is the third time they’ve tried to toss me out and I’m not putting up with it now,” she told us.

'Following the filing of paperwork for permanent residence, Ms Smith’s work visa expired and she believes the Home Office have let time lapse on her application.

'“Basically they have been sitting on my paperwork for nine months.
They have made me illegal by not filing my paperwork in a timely fashion...'

More stories about bureaucracy : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/bureaucracy
Celebrate St. George the immigrant - Wednesday 23rd April


'Join us in this simple day of (in)action to celebrate the life of St George the Immigrant on St George's Day, April 23rd.'

'His father was born a Greek, travelled to the city of Lod in Palestine, where he served in the Roman army and married a local girl. As a young man, George himself emigrated to Turkey, joined the army there, and did very well for himself, rising to the high rank of Tribunus.'

Emily Dugan, Social Affairs correspondent of the Independent Newspaper wants to write a piece about this.  She wants to speak to people taking part, particularly those who are migrants themselves.
Contact e.dugan@independent.co.uk to tell her why you are taking part.

Patron saint of Bulgaria, among other places.
Light On

Light On 'maps contemporary symbols of discrimination in Europe, provides tools to spot racism and oppose hatred manifestations'.

A promising new campaign - follow it on Facebook :

UKBA site still exists in archived form

For those people trying to find information, documents or links that were contained on the old UKBA site you will find that all the previous links are now forwarded to the new .gov.uk site.  Often this results in a general page coming up and not the information or document that you were looking for.

This can be a big problem when looking for things like the rules or guidance in operation at the time of a past application.

There is a way around this and the UKBA site still exists with all the old information thanks to the National archives.


So no matter how any Government would like to hide or rewrite history in the case of the online world there is a snapshot of what was there thanks to the National Archives.

The UKBA archive covers the period from August 2008 through until  February 2014.

UKBA old site

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Gypsies, Roma, Travellers: An animated history


Fascinating stuff and an inspired piece of work - take a look.