Letter: Rough justice for Slovakian boy

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The Independent Online
Sir: We have staying with us as an au pair a young woman from Slovakia. We invited her boyfriend, also Slovakian, to stay with us for a few weeks in the summer and were looking forward to meeting him. We have now had to advise him that he should not come. This is because we were afraid that he would be the victim of the same heartless, insulting and irresponsible behaviour that was meted out to one of his compatriots by the Immigration officers at Dover on Saturday and Sunday.

This young man arrived by coach on Saturday having paid the equivalent of a month's salary for his return ticket. He had been invited to stay by the family with whom his Slovakian girlfriend is living as an au pair. The au pair and her boyfriend planned to return to Slovakia together at the end of July. Immigration officers decided they did not believe the young man's 'story' and would not let him into the country. This was despite his having a letter of invitation from the family which had been written on the advice of the Home Office. The details of the letter were confirmed by Immigration officers in a telephone call to the family.

The family were told that if the young man returned the next day (having been deported to France overnight) there was a chance he might get into the country. The next morning, the same Immigration officer who had given this advice again refused entry. The reason given was that the young man was unemployed (he had recently failed to gain a place at university) and might decide not to return to his own country. He was deported to France having spent about four hours in this country in the custody of, at various times, Immigration officers, the police, and Group 4 security.

When his potential hostess asked what would happen to him in France since he spoke next to no English and certainly no French, had no money except Slovak currency which he would not be able to change and would be unable to inquire how to find the coach to take him back to Slovakia (which only runs once a week, on Sundays) she was given flippant and at times insolent replies by the Immigration officer who clearly felt no responsibility for the young man's welfare. If the young man had caught the coach he would have been home this morning.

As I write he has not arrived. He is 20 years old. His parents and girlfriend are distraught. My au pair, who is a good friend of the young man and his girlfriend is distressed, not so much by the refusal to let him visit but by the manner in which it was done - 'as if we are nothing, just rubbish, because we are from eastern Europe'.

Yours faithfully,

BARBARA CARMICHAEL

Thorpe Bay, Essex

4 July

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