The disturbing story highlights the fact that this young man, like thousands of other foreign nationals with UK residency, had not applied for British Citizenship and had he done so would almost certainly not been removed.
John Garcia, 20, who has not returned to the Philippines since he was four, does not speak the language, and has no close family or friends there.
Earlier this month Mr Garcia was escorted by immigration officials on to a flight to Manila. He had been detained in an immigration centre and before that in youth custody for a series of petty crimes and anti social offences.
After arriving in the Philippines he said he intended to seek advice about whether he could bring a case against the government for infringing his human rights.
Although his mother was married to a Welshman and they had settled in Anglesey for the past 16 years, he had never applied to become a British citizen. Had he or his Mother done so, it would have been far more difficult to remove him and he would almost certainly still be here with his family.
Thousands of overseas nationals who have been granted residency or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) make the mistake of not taking the further step of applying for British Citizenship.
Applying for citizenship makes sense for most migrants wishing to settle in the UK and has a number of advantages:
· Freedom to come and go and stay outside the UK for longer than two years – people with ILR will lose their status if they stay out of the UK for more than 2 years.
· Ease of travel – migrants from countries such as the Philippines and India need visas to visit most places including other European Countries.
· No need to re-stamp your passport on renewal
· The right to vote in UK elections
· You are protected against future changes in policy
Cynthia Barker, Immigration Adviser with Bison UK has helped thousands of people come to the UK on Work Permits, many of whom have successfully obtained indefinite leave and British Citizenship. She advises people not to procrastinate when it comes to applying for ILR or Citizenship.
“I talk to some migrants who have been living in the UK for over 20 years, but will not apply for a British passport because they do not want to give up their Citizenship, however, many countries such as the Philippines now allow their citizens to hold dual nationality.”
More than one million foreign nationals have been given British citizenships during the Labour party’s decade in office official figures reveal.
During 2006, the countries providing the largest number of new British citizens were India with 15,125, Pakistan (10,260), Somalia (9,050), the Philippines (8,840), South Africa (7,670), Nigeria (5,870) and Sri Lanka with (5,720), the figures reveal.
In 2006, more than 150,000 obtained passports, which took the total of foreign nationals given British citizenship to around 1,020,000 since 1997.
Another major factor to consider is that the UK Government is currently reviewing its policy on who should and who should not be eligible for full Citizenship.
In future, not all migrants will necessarily automatically qualify for a British passport.
The advice is “buy now while it’s on sale”. Most will have very little to lose and much to gain.
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For further details on the process of becoming a British Citizen, see Mike Higgs article on Immigration Matters.