The son of a Windrush immigrant has been forced to declare himself as “stateless” after he was threatened with deportation despite being born in the UK.
Jay, now in his twenties, has been repeatedly denied a British passport because of a lack of clarity over his mother’s status after she came from Jamaica as a child. He was forced to become a stateless citizen after the Home Office threatened to remove him from the country in 2016.
Speaking to The Independent, Jay said he had been fighting a “constant battle” to be recognised as British, spending hundreds of pounds and sending dozens of letters in failed attempts to secure his status.
The young man, who was born in Birmingham and now lives in east London, said he was left feeling “excluded” from society and unable to pursue career goals due to being unable to travel abroad.
His case reveals the devastating effect the government’s “hostile environment” policies have had on people who arrived as part of the Windrush, as well as the negative impact on their British-born offspring.
Jay’s situation comes after a string of shocking cases emerged of individuals who had been targeted by Home Office officials despite being welcomed to Britain as children before 1973, with some denied medical care, losing their jobs or being threatened with deportation.
Amber Rudd and the prime minister have both already issued apologies over the scandal and set up an official hotline for those with concerns about their migration status, with the Home Office having already dealt with more than 200 cases.
Jay, who was placed in foster care as a baby, first became aware of the issues surrounding his status in the UK when his foster parents wanted to take him abroad on holiday and were unable to get him a passport.
“There were certain trips that the school and the college would organise, which I obviously couldn’t go on. And I wouldn’t be able to explain why, I’d just say I can’t go,” he says.
“It made me feel very excluded from society. It’s almost like you don’t feel a part of what they’re a part of. This is a country where everyone is meant to feel welcome, and I’m not illegal here, I’m perfectly legal being here.
“As I got older it started to affect things that I wanted to do in my life. I had opportunities to go compete in competitions as part of my career and I couldn’t.”
Jay applied for a passport as a teenager and was told he was not eligible because of a lack of information about his mother, from whom he was estranged, even though he was able to provide her birth certificate.
Determined to resolve the situation, he wrote to numerous MPs pleading for their help, but while many tried to make contact with the Home Office, they were unable to change the decision.
In 2016 Jay received a deportation notice from the Home Office after applying for a passport for the third time. He was told he was not eligible and that in order to remain he must declare himself as “stateless”.
“They said they were going to send me back to Jamaica. I’ve never been to Jamaica,” Jay said. “In order to stay here I had to declare myself as a stateless person. It feels embarrassing to be classed as a stateless person. The word alone – it’s very degrading.”
Now a university student but unsure on his prospects for the future, Jay said the Home Office’s refusal to recognise him as British has left him feeling “stuck”, and at times driven him into a state of depression.
“It’s hindered me a lot. I haven’t been able to meet certain business goals and compete in certain competitions to develop in my career. It’s made me feel very stuck and very isolated at times – very alone, depressed,” he said.
“People didn’t realise I was going through it. I didn’t tell my friends. But I’ve realised it’s best to sort it out now because it’s been brought to the public attention.
“Before the revelations of the Windrush scandal, I think everyone in the Jamaican community had given up hope. People were losing money, putting in applications that were being denied, being sent home. People had had enough.
“I’m hoping the Home Office and the British government understand what’s gone wrong here and how to correct the issue swiftly for those people who have been affected.”
The Home Office has been approached for comment.
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