Chagossian crowdfunding to fight immediate deportation threat

Christopher's family are fundraising for a visa application fee which would stop his deportation and, if succesful, give him indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It's urgent this process starts as soon as possible - you can donate here.

A 22-year old Chagossian Christopher - not his real name - was detained by immigration officials in the UK on Wednesday evening and is now threatened with deportation to Mauritius.

His family are leading a crowdfunding campaign to halt deportation proceedings, which could be concluded in the next few days.

This case is the latest in a growing number of Chagossians who faced deportation from the UK, separating them from their families and sending them to countries they barely know. The situation has been compared with the Windrush crisis and was referenced in Parliament just this week.

Christopher is currently being held in Gatwick detention centre. A popular figure within the community, he has recently played for the Chagos Islands National Football team which has played in a number of CONIFA tournaments.

Christopher's Grandfather was forced from the Chagos Islands in the deportations of the late 1960s and early 1970s. And it is as a direct consequence those deportations that Christopher know faces a similar issue.

Christopher's Grandfather was born on the Chagos Islands when it was regarded as a British Colony. This means that he is legally entitled to British citizenship, as were his children.

But because Christopher's grandfather was deported before Christopher's mother was born, Christopher himself is not entitled to British citizenship and is treated like any other immigrant by Home Office officials.

Had the deportations of the 1960s and 1970s not happened, Christopher would have a much simpler and cheaper path to UK citizenship, in the same way residents of other Overseas Territories like Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands do.

A Private Members Bill by Henry Smith MP seeks to address this issue, giving British Overseas Territories citizenship to all descendents of those born on the Chagos Islands. Ministers have met with Mr Smith but have yet to commit to any legislative changes.

UK Chagos Support Association Vice-Chair Stefan Donnelly stated that:

"This another tragic example of why immigration law needs urgent reform to account for the unique history of Chagossians. It's so obviously and deeply unfair that a young Chagossian’s life is being ruined because previous governments ruined the lives of his grandfather's generation."

"Right now we should all put our hand in our pocket and help the family with whatever we can give to stop this terrible deportation threat. But long-term the government needs to change the law, or this will continue to happen time and time again."

#Chagos #Chagossians #Immigration #Citizenship

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