Case of Michael Braithwaite, who has lived in UK since 1961, was expedited after media exposure
Michael Braithwaite, the special needs teaching assistant who lost his job after being classified as an illegal immigrant, collected documents on Wednesday confirming his right to be in the UK, papers which were expedited after media exposure of his case.
What is the Windrush deportation crisis?
Details of Braithwaite’s situation published in the Guardian last week attracted huge public condemnation and helped push the Windrush scandal into the headlines. Although he was relieved to have a temporary solution to his immigration problem, he said his difficulties had come close to destroying his life.
Braithwaite, who arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1961, had worked at a north London primary school for more than 15 years when a routine check on his immigration status revealed he did not have an up-to-date identity document. He was sacked despite the fact he has lived in the UK for more than 50 years.
Getting the biometric card was “only half of what I wanted – it’s a only a temporary thing”.
“I’m glad that my story opened up the dysfunctionality of the Home Office. It has been a betrayal of my people. I feel very bitter still. People’s lives have been disrupted. My life has been turned upside down. It devastated me to the point of I was going to kill myself at one point.
“Having someone take away 57 years of your life is terrible. It made me feel I’ve got no worth, no status nothing. They’ve taken it all away from me. I didn’t understand why. I almost fell apart with the stress.”
He had always assumed he was British, having attended primary school and secondary school here, and having worked continuously since leaving school. He married in London and has three British children and five grandchildren.
“I never applied for a British passport. We thought we were British,” he said.
Chai Patel, the legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “Glad as we are the Home Office finally resolved Michael’s situation, it’s appalling that they appear to operate a system of appeal by Twitter. For the many who can’t get the injustices they suffer into the media, there is no such respite from the grinding, bureaucratic cruelty of the system.
“The growing public anger about these injustices must be reflected, not in case-by-case defeats for an embarrassed Home Office, but a full and independent inquiry into the systemic failures of the Home Office, otherwise the Windrush generation will continue to suffer, as will many other groups of migrants wrongly targeted by the hostile environment.”