I hesitate to write this entry. I have no intention of maintaining a campaign-y type of blog... but every now and then you hear a story that just needs wider coverage. I'm sure there are many. Here's one.
About four years ago a British man called Andy Weller married a Thai woman called Aranya. They had a daughter called Jemima. Andy was teaching in Bangkok but was intending to return to the UK to complete his degree studies and take up a new teaching post at a school in Reigate.
The couple wanted their daughter - a British citizen - to be raised and schooled in the UK where her grandparents and uncles could play a more significant role in her upbringing. Plans were in place to move here in September 2008.
But unfortunately in November last year Andy had a heart attack and passed away. He was only 31 years old. His daughter, Jemima is 2. It is almost impossible to calculate the effect such an untimely death has on a family. Andy's wife and child are obviously devastated as are his parents and brothers.
Andy's parents flew to Bangkok to help deal with the formalities following their son's death. They returned with Aranya, Jemima and their son's ashes. Aranya is currently in the UK on a 6-month visitors visa. It expires on June 1st 2008.
On January 9th they submitted a visa application requesting that Aranya be allowed to stay for a further 2 years. It seems entirely understandable to me that, having lost a son in such tragic circumstances they do not want to have their grand-daughter and daughter-in-law taken from them also. Jemima is a British citizen and I would have thought she had a natural right to remain here. Of course nobody would suggest that a mother and child should be separated under these circumstances and so if Aranya is denied the right to stay then effectively so is Jemima.
And that's what seems to have happened. The Home Office have declined the visa request on the basis that there is a lack of "compelling or compassionate grounds." This I don't understand. Indeed, further tearing this family apart when they are still reeling with the grief of such a significant loss seems to be so lacking in compassion as to be mind-boggling.
The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has the right - if she chooses - to overturn any immigration decision. Nobody involved has breached any immigration rules. It is simply a case of a close and loving family, already torn apart by grief, seeking to stay together and help each other through a horrible situation.
If you're minded to do so you might want to write to the Home Secretary and/or the family's local MP Crispin Blunt.
Here are their contact details:
The Rt Hon. Jacqui Smith, M.P.
The Home Secretary,
2 Marsham Street
Crispin Blunt MP
House of Commons
If you write to Crispin Blunt, you will need to use the heading 'Aranya Weller.' If you write to he Home Secretary you should use a fuller heading: 'Mrs Aranya Weller (nee Chantajit)' and you'll also need to include the Home Office reference LR2932016148 and the case ID 009327601
You can also e-mail them:
Jacqui Smith = indpublicenquiries [at] ind.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Crispin Blunt = crispinbluntmp [at] parliament.uk
Here's a copy of an e-mail I sent:
Subject: Mrs Aranya Weller (nee Chantajit)
Re: Home Office ref: LR2932016148, case ID 009327601
I am writing in support of the residency application
by Mrs Aranya Weller (née Chantajit).
I must express my surprise on hearing that Mrs Weller's
application had been denied on the basis of a lack of
"compelling or compassionate grounds." As you will
be aware Mrs Weller lost her husband tragically and
suddenly last year. As a family, they had been planning
for some time to return to the UK to make their home
near to Mr Weller's extended network of family and
extensive network of friends. Their 2-year old daughter
is a British citizen and it was their wish that she be
educated and raised in the UK.
By denying Mrs Weller's application, the Home Office
is de facto expelling a British citizen as no one could
expect mother and daughter to be separated especially
following such tragic events.
I urge you - in the spirit of compassion - to reconsider the
decision made by the Home Office.
If you're so inclined, I think it would help if you were to write also.