A young Sheffield man who fled Afghanistan as a child when his family was murdered by the Taliban is fighting deportation – because he is now classed as an adult.
The plight of the now 21-year-old was raised in Parliament by Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh this week, as part of a debate on immigration detention called by fellow Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield.
Her constituent, who has not been named, fled Afghanistan at the age of nine, went to school in England after arriving in Britain – following four years in cognito – and was granted temporary leave to remain.
But under the current system humanitarian rights for minors end on their 18th birthday and after a lengthy legal battle, two weeks ago the man was taken from his Sheffield community, handcuffed and put in a cell.
An injunction was granted and he was released, but the man remains fearful of further detention and being forced back to Afghanistan.
Miss Haigh told MPs in the Commons: “His entire family had been murdered by the Taliban, excepting his older brother who tragically died on the journey here. He is understandably now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The young man was schooled and built a life here. To all intents and purposes, this man is as English as you and me, Madam Deputy Speaker.
“He has no family and almost no connection to the country he fled at nine.
“Yet two weeks ago he was hauled out of the community in which he lived, handcuffed and taken to the Brook House removal centre at Gatwick, where he was put in a cell, and where food and drink was limited.
“He was even given his plane tickets, despite there being a block on his removal due to my intervention.
“After an entirely unnecessary traumatic and expensive experience, he was granted an injunction preventing his removal and release. He is now afraid to sign in with his caseworker, as he is required to do weekly, for fear of being arbitrarily detained again.”
Miss Haigh said the case showed the current immigration detention system was ‘disproportionate’ and policy ‘unjust’, asking for the Home Office to speed up a report into conditions at detention centres and for a review into the policy that meant her constituent was to be taken back to Afghanistan.
She also said the Government needed to ‘urgently confirm’ how it would make sure that Syrian refugee children would not be deported once they reached 18 as the country is to take in another 20,000 over the next five years.
Today in Sheffield there will be a meeting on the city’s response to the current crisis, after Sheffield Council confirmed it would ‘immediately welcome’ another 10 to 15 Syrian families.
The meeting will be at Firth Hall, Firth Court, Western Bank, from 11am.