By CLARA MURRAY
A man from Thornton Heath has been detained for almost a month and is facing deportation on Wednesday despite being legally eligible to stay in the UK.
Joey Bediako, 26, was taken “without warning” to the notorious Brook House Immigration Removal Centre on May 5 and told he will be deported to Ghana, where he has no friends or family and would be “destitute”.
His girlfriend, Amoura Curry, told Inside Croydon that Bediako received a letter last month informing him he could apply for long-term residency under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Bediako is a Ghanaian citizen but is eligible for the scheme because his parents and sister are Italian nationals and his father lives and works in the UK.
Bediako has lived in Croydon for four years. Within a week of receiving the letter about his status, Bediako was detained. He is unable to apply for residency while being held because his passport was taken away. The Home Office claim they do not have proof of his parents’ nationality, Curry alleges.
“If he leaves voluntarily on Wednesday he could come back in a year,” Curry said. “But that’s bullshit because he has the right to be here… You can’t hold someone captive until you decide what proof is acceptable.
“When the Home Office realised they had made this dire mistake, they should have released him immediately.
“Instead they’ve said, ‘You can apply in Brook House and see what happens’.”
Croydon North MP Steve Reed and Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds have given their support to his case, asking the Home Office to delay the deportation order “urgently” and allow Bediako to finish his British residency application.
Curry and Bediako’s parents are also being supported by migrants’ rights charities and a legal team – but time is running out.
Curry said that she and Bediako have been under intense stress and he was even placed on suicide watch.
“He’s been calling me on the hour asking me what’s happening. He can’t relax. He’s been frantic. He hasn’t eaten anything today and he’s pacing up and down… He is deteriorating as a human being.
“He doesn’t have any hope, he doesn’t believe there’s going to be any justice for him.
“I’m probably as anxious as he is. Things are really starting to sink in for me, but I’m going to do everything in my power to get him out of there.”
Brook House was the subject of a 2017 Panorama investigation into abusive and violent behaviour by staff when it was run by G4S. It is now managed by Serco.
Curry said conditions there are “prison-like” and “inhumane”. One night, she alleges a staff member entered Bediako’s room and said he was being deported right away. At the time, there was no active deportation order – something confirmed by his legal team.
“How can you come to a vulnerable person in the middle of the night and frighten them like that?” she asked. “They have done nothing but cause Joseph harm.”
Curry is now organising a protest at Gatwick Airport on June 2 at the time of the intended deportation flight.
Bediako’s case is the latest in a string of allegations that the Home Office is creating a “hostile environment” for EU citizens ahead of the June 30 deadline to apply for settled status. Many others have been detained and deported amid ‘confusing’ new rules.
The i newspaper has reported a Home Office spokesperson saying that they had not received any application from Bediako for the EU Settlement Scheme. “We take our responsibilities towards detained individuals’ health and welfare very seriously.”
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