Vulnerable 19 Year Old Yashika Set to Be Deported Just Months Before Exams

18:46Ciaran McCormick

As I write, a girl by the name of Yashika Bageerathi is being driven towards Heathrow Airport. She will be deported tonight because senior government figures including Immigration Minister James Brokenshire deem her asylum case to not be exceptional enough to warrant staying. She fled to the UK in 2011 from her native Mauritius with her mother and siblings to escape an abusive relative. In just a few months time, she would have sat her final A Level exams. A wave of protests has accompanied her case and rightly so. It demonstrates the triumph of bureaucracy over compassion. It is a symptom of a Britain that has sleepwalked into an anti-immigration narrative that scapegoats the innocent. The human rights of a person of a different nationality are treated very differently by government, despite all humans having an intrinsic right to a family and private life.



Her treatment is appalling. Because of her younger age, her asylum application has been considered separately to the rest of her family. This means that she will be deported back to Mauritius on her own and, naturally, this has led to distress for both her and her family. She has been staying in unfriendly conditions in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre. The name of this centre encapsulates the attitude officials have towards foreigners. These are not economic migrants but people that have fled terrible persecution. To live in a 'Removal Centre' is a degrading experience and does not give these people the dignity they deserve. The detention of asylum seekers is exacerbated by a process of 'ghosting' where their high mobility disrupts their lives and reduces their visibility to the population. The constant state of deportability for immigrants adds a further dimension to this psychological 'othering' of foreigners.

Yashika and her family have assimilated well into the UK and thrived in its diverse and tolerant culture. She is a model student of Oasis Academy Hadley and an important member of her local Enfield community. The faint words of David Cameron's flagship 'Big Society' agenda seem even more distant when innocent people are removed by technical processes that do not pay respect to people's value and worth in our society. People have fully recognised this and have rallied in support of Yashika. They have recognised the potential and future that immigration and asylum authorities have overlooked. A Change.org petition aiming to prevent her detention has over 170,000 signatures. Even airline Air Mauritius initially stood up to the ruling and refused to accept the tickets that the government purchased for her detention, though they have to relent under the extraordinary pressure.

This case is part of a broader narrative tinged with racism and a fear of the foreign, even though this particular case is a bureaucratic and technical disgrace. It ties in with the biases of the asylum system that also excludes and oppresses people in the LGBT community. We will watch as immigration burns brightly as an issue in the 2015 general election. Whatever your political beliefs, young and vulnerable asylum seekers thriving in our communities should not even be a part of the equation.

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