Dean Ablakwa, 34, was sent by the Home Office to Accra, the capital of Ghana, in June 2017. He has no criminal record
A former NHS nurse has been left stateless and unable to work after being deported by the Home Office – despite being born in the UK and paying taxes for over a decade.
Dean Ablakwa, 34, was sent to Accra, the capital of Ghana, in June 2017. He has no criminal record.
Mr Ablakwa has no connections to the city, and without the means to earn a living because of his immigration status, relies on handouts from family members to survive.
Speaking to The Independent, he described his current situation as “mind-torturing” and said he has had trouble sleeping.
“Every time I dream I feel like I’m in prison,” he said. “Even when I’m here I feel like I’m not free. I don’t feel like I’m meant to be here.”
“I feel my human rights have been stripped away,” he added. “I feel betrayed because I always thought I was British.”
Mr Ablakwa was born in east London. His parents, originally from Ghana, were killed in a road accident on holiday in the African country when he was just five years old. He was adopted by relatives in Ghana during his childhood, as they were unable to locate his passport.
He decided to return to Britain when he was 18 to live with relatives there. Unable to find his original passport, he travelled to the UK illegally using someone else’s passport.
Once back in his country of birth, he was able to use his own identity via his birth certificate to get a driver’s license, National Insurance card and a bank account.
He trained to become an NHS socio-therapist, and in 2012 got a job working in Homerton, London. However, almost a year into the job he was accused of helping a convicted murderer escape from a secure unit at his work place.
He was imprisoned for nine months on remand, but later found not guilty for the charges. Upon his release, his flat had been repossessed. Facing homelessness, he moved to Milton Keynes to stay with his aunt.
‘I felt suicidal’
Mr Ablakwa claims he started being targeted by immigration control after he attempted to apply for housing benefits.
“I called the Home Office and explained what had happened. I had my birth certificate, my bank account, I had voted in elections, I had a GP. I had already been wrongly branded a criminal.”
The Home Office reportedly told Mr Ablakwa there had been a mistake and he needed to apply for naturalisation. He spent £1000 – his last savings – applying only to be turned down on grounds that he was not eligible for work. Despite being acquitted, he was unable to get his job back on the NHS for reasons he claims were not explained to him.
“I felt suicidal at this point. It felt so hurtful. It was just too much,” he said.
He was later detained in Harmondsworth removal centre, from which he was flown out from a military base to Ghana.
“I was no longer in touch with the distant relatives from my childhood,” he said on landing in Ghana. “I felt lost.”
Without correct Ghanaian identification either, he has been unable to work or get a bank account. He also finds himself without the money to pay for legal representation.
His case has been likened to the treatment of immigrants from the Caribbean during the Windrush scandal.
In 2018, around 63 cases were revealed of immigrants who had arrived in the UK before 1973. Individuals were wrongly detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation.
An unknown number were also denied needed medical care and benefits, with some even losing their homes or jobs, because they were unable to produce UK identification documents that they were never given.
Then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigned her position over the scandal.
The scandal was linked to the “hostile environment policy” adopted by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary in 2012. The policy was designed to make it as difficult as possible for people without “leave to remain” in the UK to stay, in order to encourage immigrants to return voluntarily.
he Home Office responded to the i with the following background information about Mr Ablakwa: “Mr Ablakwa was removed from the UK in June 2017 because he had no leave to remain. His removal did not relate to the criminal charge against him of which he was acquitted.
“No evidence has been provided suggesting that Mr Ablakwa’s parents were resident in the UK before 1973.