A campaign has been launched to try to stop the UK Border Agency from splitting up a family from Hanham.
Mae Draper has been married to her husband Kevin, who is originally from Downend, for 20 years but is facing deportation to the Philippines at any time as the UK Border Agency apparently failed to issue her with the correct visa.
A DVD highlighting the Save Mae Campaign has been produced, in which the couple’s 14-year-old daughter Rhian, a student at the John Cabot Academy in Kingswood, pleads with the immigration authorities not to take her mum away, saying: “My family is being torn apart by the UK Government.”
The Drapers have also enlisted the support of their MP Chris Skidmore and met him at his office in Kingswood today to update him on the situation.
The couple, who met in Hong Kong, were married in Bristol. Although Mr Draper’s work took them to Dubai, where they lived for many years, they made regular return visits to the Bristol area and decided to come back permanently a couple of years ago, setting up home in Ansteys Road in Hanham. Mrs Draper spent some time with her father in the Philippines as her mother had died, but then had trouble coming back to England.
Rhian said: “For us it hasn’t been easy to be a family. The immigration authorities prevented Mum from entering the UK for a whole year. Then last year she arrived but on a visitor’s visa. Since the day we were reunited we have been applying for a spouse visa so that she can stay here permanently.”
After a year of visa negotiations involving lawyers and wranglings with the High Court, the Drapers say their faith in the immigration system has been “totally destroyed”.
They want to know why the UK Border Agency in Manila did not grant Mrs Draper a spouse visa at the outset, and why the High Court hasn’t granted her another hearing after they learned that the letter confirming the court case was delivered to another address by mistake. A decision was made by the court in Mrs Draper’s absence and she is now living in fear of deportation.
Mr Skidmore, who said that Mrs Draper was clearly not someone trying to take advantage of the system to stay in the UK, has raised her case with Minister for Security & Immigration James Brokenshire’s office.
A Facebook appeal and a petition are due to be launched next week and Mr Skidmore plans to accompany the family to Downing Street when they hand it in.
He is also hoping to secure an adjournment debate so he can raise Mrs Draper’s case in the House of Commons.
Mrs Draper, who is a qualified midwife and says she would love to work in this country, said: “This is my home. I don’t have a home in the Philippines.”
The family have compiled a special song for the DVD in which Rhian sings: “We’re stronger as a family, Don’t take Mum away.”
To add to the family’s distress, Kevin’s father Gordon has just died and his funeral takes place on Monday. He took part in the video, in which he branded the British Government ”cruel” for wanting to deport his daughter-in-law.