Author- May Bulman
Exclusive: Former Malaysian citizens languishing in Britain after being rendered stateless more than a decade ago as Home Office refuses to grant them immigration status
More than 1,000 people have been forced into years of hardship in the UK after the Home Office refused to grant them any form of immigration status even when officials were made aware they have nowhere else to go after being rendered stateless.
Lawyers said the former Malaysian citizens had been languishing in Britain at the mercy of the hostile environment in what has been branded a “Windrush-style” scandal after being stateless for more than 10 years.
They were led to believe an obscure British travel document would make them UK citizens, but Home Office enforcement officers have admitted these people were effectively “trapped” because Malaysia would not allow them back into the country while the UK government was also refusing to grant them any form of status, despite having known about their predicament for years.
This has left them unable to work, driving some into exploitation as a means of survival. Others have been detained in immigration centres for weeks and then released because there was no prospect of removing them, at a cost of £85.97 per person per day in detention
At least two people have been deported to Malaysia and then immediately returned to the UK because authorities refused them entry.
A spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that in cases where someone is stateless but may be able to reacquire their former nationality, the UK government should provide them with some form of immigration status to allow them to remain there while making arrangements to move.