London, May 6. (EFE). – A young Spanish woman is detained for four days in the immigration expulsion center for three hours from London, without access to her belongings and almost incommunicado, after trying to enter the United Kingdom and announcing her intention to search for work without a visa, after Brexit, necessary for this purpose .
The case of “Maria” – a pseudonym – was brought to life in Valencia, 25, thanks to her friend, Oriole Arnedo, who lives in the United Kingdom, who posted a thread on Twitter explaining the story.
A friend of the young woman, who requested anonymity for fear of possible retaliation, was among the few people who managed to contact her, described the situation as “miserable” and “surreal” in an interview with Efe.
He recounts that Maria stayed in the United Kingdom for six months in 2019 and returned to Spain for academic reasons, despite the idea of returning in the future, which is the epidemic plan and the three cases that the country went through, forced her to postpone until last Monday.
However, it was not until his arrival at immigration control at London Gatwick Airport that he had unconsciously made a bureaucratic mistake. They asked her why she was traveling, and she said she was coming for “work reasons.”
He had an English Social Security Number (NIN), employment contracts, negative PCR and a valid passport, but he lacked the temporary residence permit for EU residents (prior settlement status) that he would have requested on British soil. In which you are entitled to actually reside in the country.
“A lot of people are making the same mistake, because they’ve been to the UK before and think just going back is enough,” admits the friend.
Mariah’s journey began at the same airport: they took her cell phone, passport, and suitcases, and took her to a room “with many people in the same position”.
In that room, she was able to use the phone to call her friend and sister (also based in London), who were waiting for her in the British capital. After that call, they spent 12 hours without knowing anything about her or her whereabouts.
They called that phone again and there she picked up a canary boy who was being held with her and told them that they took her away at dawn with other girls.
Then her friend began the journey of the “mabahith” until she was able to find out the immigration expulsion center to which they took Maria, and to speak with her, who did not know her location.
Maria has been at the Yarl Center to remove wood for immigrants since last Monday in extreme conditions: cold, with the same socks, two changes. He was denied access to his belongings after discovering three positive cases of Coronavirus in the same unit at the center, as he will have to remain isolated for the next ten days.
Her friend confirms that Maria is “very strong” and that they are in contact with her to share all the information with her. In that sense, she comments that Maria is lucky to have relatives in the UK who care for her.
They claim that had she been returned to Spain on the first available plane, she “would not have entered this detention center nor would she have to remain in isolation.”
They still do not know what fate awaits Maria, as she has not been provided with legal support, and she does not know whether she will be deported or whether she will be denied entry to the UK forever or temporarily.
Diplomatic sources confirmed to Efe, that the Consulate General of Spain in London has evidence on the case of a Spanish woman detained in London, adding that the young woman “is currently in a detention center due to visa problems.”
They added: “Since the entry into force of Britain’s exit from the European Union, the requirements for entry into the United Kingdom have been tightened and it has become mandatory to enter with a visa. This Spanish citizen did not have a visa and was therefore detained pending a decision from the British authorities.” .
Meanwhile, British sources confirmed to Efe that they are “urgently investigating the case.”
A UK Home Office spokesperson said in a statement to Efe that “citizens of European Union countries are our friends, neighbors and those who resided in the UK before December 31, 2020 have until 30 June to register for the Settlement Plan, because we want them to stay”.
“Those who arrive after January 1 need to prove their right to live and work in the UK,” the spokesman added.
The organization The 3 Million, which looks after the interests of citizens of society in the United Kingdom, warned that events such as those in Maria, in which “a citizen of the European Union is detained and deprived of his freedom for several days, are of great concern.”
“It is not at all clear whether these are proportionate measures: before people are returned to their countries of origin, they are locked up in a detention center,” added Mike Boone, co-founder of the NGO.
The activist believes that “there are many mechanisms available to the Ministry of Interior in this situation, and detaining a person in a detention center should be the last resort.” EFE
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