Tuesday, 14 July 2015


For as long as Victor* has lived in Britain all he has wanted to do is provide for his family. Starting with causal work when he first moved over to London in 2007 he quickly found himself a permanent position, working night shifts stacking shelves in a chain supermarket. With a degree in science from his hometown in Nigeria it was far from his dream job—but it was enough to support his wife and three young children.

When I spoke to him last month, almost eight years after arriving in the UK, Victor was sitting in a detention center he described to me as a "prison" just a few miles down the road from a London Airport. As a foreign national offender (FNO) he is caught in the middle of Theresa May's new "hostile environment," facing deportation for using false documents to find employment, a crime he struggles to really accept.

"I am trying to work hard because that's what my parents told me," he said. "I won't rob a bank and I wont take drugs. I have two hands to work and that is what I want to do."

Last year, as part of the 2014 Immigration Act, the coalition government passed a little-known policy called "deport first, appeal later." Under Articles eight and three of the European Convention on Human Rights FNOs are able to appeal their deportation on the basis of rights to family life or the risk of "serious irreversible harm" being caused. In the past they were able to do this from within the UK—close to the legal teams they are trying to contact and the authorities they are trying to contest.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

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