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Legal eagle to the rescue

MEETING: Anthony Brown, left, with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness

A NEWLY qualified paralegal has vowed to provide assistance to Manchester’s Caribbean diaspora caught up in the immigration debacle and desperately trying to prove their right to be in the UK.

Anthony Brown, who lives in the city, attended a recent community meeting at the Millennium Windrush Centre in Moss Side, which aimed to give support to local residents worried about their status.

Despite living and working in the UK for decades, 58-year-old Anthony has also been concerned over recent events and it is not the rst time he has faced uncertainty over his own immigration status.

“My father rst came to the UK in the 1950s. He worked for the Jamaica Railway Company and gained a scholarship to come to the UK to study civil engineering,” he says.

Anthony’s father, Derek, then went home to Jamaica but returned to England to continue his studies, sending for his wife and four children in 1967 when Anthony, the youngest child, was just six years old. The family settled in Trafford and Anthony attended the local grammar school.

“My dad was employed over here as a civil engineer, working on motorways and public buildings and was actually one of the designers for the shopping mall, Stretford Arndale, so he literally built this country.”

But the problems began when Derek and his wife Veronica left the UK for the nal time to settle in Jamaica with Anthony and his older brother Paul.

“I came back in 1976 to attend my sister’s wedding, but the law had changed and if you left the country for more than two years you lost your right to remain. So, in 1977 when I decided to come back here to live I had to get a Jamaican passport.”

Despite his older siblings being granted British citizenship, this right was denied to Anthony and the university he attended then demanded overseas student fees. Anthony wrote to the Home Office for support and clari cation and was informed that he had to leave the country.
“I hear it mentioned that Theresa May wanted to create this ‘hostile environment’, but it was Margaret Thatcher who initially created that when she reported that Britain was being swamped by immigrants.”

Anthony was eventually granted inde nite leave to remain in the UK, but has never sought to become a British national and obtain a British passport so he was understandably ‘frightened’ by recent events and reports of people being deported who have made Britain their home since their childhood.

“As far as I’m concerned I am British. I came here as a British citizen. The laws may have changed and I’m in between but I haven’t changed my nationality or status, I’m still the same person.”
Anthony was forced to seek clari cation of his status from the Home Office, which conceded to offer him a Biometric Resident Card, something he is entirely unhappy about because “it marks me out as different”.

But since travelling to London where he met and talked with Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who told hundreds at a packed-out Kilburn church that he had been personally assured of the future of Windrush immigrants in the UK by Mrs May. Anthony is much more con dent that this asco can be resolved and is now committed to helping other Mancunians in similar situations.

“I would like to hear from barristers and solicitors who want to assist with Windrush cases at The Law Centre,” added Anthony.

The meeting held at the Millenium Windrush Centre was hosted by local artist Ikem Neribe who, infuriated by recent events, wanted to rally the community together. He will continue to host meetings there every Saturday at 4pm until June 23.

“This is not just a defence campaign for the Windrush generation, it’s a defence campaign of the black British presence. If we don’t use this moment to gain there is no chance for us whatsoever going forward. It is insane that we have to assert our right to be here. Black people didn’t just build Britain, we built modern Britain.”

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