Expat mom legally in UK gets deportation and child removal threats

Published:  26 Sep at 6 PM
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A Japanese expat mom living legally with her Polish husband in London has endured a life-changing two-year fight with the Home Office.

Another Home Office scandal hit the media today, describing the two years of hell endured by Japanese national Haruka Tomioka, who’d been living legally in London with her Polish husband, an EU citizen working in the film industry, for ten years. Over the past two years, in spite of the fact that EU law on freedom of movement includes the spouses and children of EU citizens, she was threatened with deportation, lost her child benefit, had her driving license revoked and endured being treated like a criminal. Worse still, Home Office officials threatened they would separate her from her eight-year old son.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, she revealed she had been forced to repay £5,000 of child benefit and had to report to a Home Office immigration centre every month. She was told that, should she refuse to comply with the order specifying monthly reporting, she would face detention, a fine of up to £5,000 and a possible prison sentence. Finally, just two weeks ago, she was given seven days to leave the UK. Haruka told reporters she was truly frightened, believing officials could simply come to her home and arrest her.

During her interviews with Home Office officials at Becket House in London she was asked several times to explain why she would not just return to Japan, even after she’d pointed out she could stay as her husband was an EU citizen exercising his rights. Late last week, the deportation order was cancelled, with one officer telling her she should not have been sent the standard deportation letter.

According to immigration barrister Jan Doerfel, Haruka may well have a legal case based on unlawful action by the Home Office. Lawyers working with immigrants believe her ordeal brings to the fore the deliberately hostile environment policy used by Home Office officials, and may be a preview of what will happen to many thousands of EU expats in the UK after Brexit is finalised.
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