This morning I joined Mohammed Mirzo and his father Ali, along with Jonathan Cox from Citizens UK, to present a 31,000 plus signature petition to the Home Office.
The petition, signed by people in Cardiff Central and across the UK, is addressed to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP, asking that she intervenes to stop Mohammed from being taken from his family in Cardiff and forcibly removed from the UK to Bulgaria.
Mohammed’s family have refugee status in the UK. Their home and village in Syria has been destroyed las a result of the war there. The family became separated and Mohammed ended up in Bulgaria on his own at the age of 16. He described to me how he was made to give fingerprint evidence by a Bulgarian border guard but he didn't know what the implications of this were because he could not speak Bulgarian, was traumatised by his experience and was frightened and without his family or any help.
After travelling through countries including Germany where he was attacked by a neo-Nazi gang who broke his shoulder, he was eventually reunited with his family in Cardiff in April 2017.
In October 2017 Mohammed, now 20, was arrested, taken to Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire and detained there. He was told he would be put on a flight back to Bulgaria, as this was the first country he was registered in the EU.
Working with Mohammed’s solicitor who has made legal representations, and following my representations to the Immigration Minister and the campaign by Citizens UK, Mohammed was released from Campsfield and is back with his family but he is still under threat of forcible removal.
The strength of feeling from the local community is clear, with over 31,000 people having signed the petition against his removal. It has been described as 'barbaric' to separate Mohammed from his family.
This is the latest case I have taken up for constituents who sought asylum on arrival in the UK as unaccompanied children who are then required to apply for permanent leave to remain in the UK upon turning 18. I have raised this issue in Parliament with government ministers, calling for a change to Home Office policy and I'm campaigning on behalf of my affected constituents and many others for the government to change these rules which I believe are perverse and lack common sense, never mind any compassion.
Thank you everyone who has signed the petition so far. I'm so proud of our supportive community in Cardiff and across the UK. Mohammed has been through significant trauma, is still suffering from the effects both physically and psychologically. It would be barbaric to remove him from his family now that they have been reunited.
You can still sign the petition via Change.org by clicking here.