Express & Star

Family want apology after Wolverhampton grandmother told she faces deportation after 50 years in the UK

The family of a grandmother facing deportation despite living in Britain for nearly 50 years today called on the Home Office to apologise for the treatment she has received.

Last updated
Paulette Wilson

Paulette Wilson, 61, from Heath Town, Wolverhampton, spent a week at the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration removal complex near Bedford after being detained by officials.

It came after the Home Office claimed she had no right to stay in the country.

Although she was released after an intervention from the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton, she has to report to officials again next month and could still be deported.

As a result of the Home Office decision to categorise her as an illegal immigrant, she has lost her benefits for the past two years as well as her flat, and is reliant on the financial support of her daughter, Natalie Barnes.

Ms Barnes said her mother was devastated by the decision to begin deportation proceedings.

“We need an apology from the Home Office. This has broken her heart,” she said.

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds has written to the Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis asking for an urgent clarification of her situation.

She said the family need to be able to ‘draw a line under this dreadful experience’.

“Paulette has been in the UK for 50 years,” the Labour MP said. “It is my understanding that she is here legally. The Government should apologise for the unacceptable way in which she has been treated.”

The Home Office said discussions were ongoing with Ms Wilson about how to regularise her immigration status. Officials have yet to respond to the family’s request for an apology.

Lawyers at the Refugee and Migrant Centre on Waterloo Road believe she has a legal right to stay in the UK because she moved here before the 1971 Immigration Act gave people who had already settled in Britain indefinite leave to remain.

Immigration lawyers say some older British residents, who may have arrived here from Commonwealth countries in the 1950s or 1960s as children, may have an immigration status that is unclear because they have never needed to get a passport and never formally applied for British citizenship.

Fiona Bawdon, who wrote a report on older people who had discovered they are undocumented, said: “There is a whole grey area of people who can’t prove their status.

“Ironically, it’s often the people who have been here longest who have the least awareness of the need to regularise their situation.”

Ms Wilson arrived in the UK from Jamaica as a 10-year-old in 1968, before immigration status rules were introduced.

Government guidelines state that anyone who settled in the UK by January 1, 1973, has the right to remain in the country.

She was looked after by her grandparents in Wellington near Telford.

When they died a short time after and she was taken into the care of Shropshire Council and placed in the Vineyard children’s home in Wellington. She has never left the UK, worked all her life, and made 34 years worth of National Insurance payments.

But in 2015 she received a letter ‘out of the blue’ saying she had no right to be in the country.

She was told she had to register each month in Solihull, and it was while reporting to immigration officials there in October that she was detained and taken to the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.