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A 43 year old care home worker and single mother is about to lose her job and home because of the hostile environment

Bunmi

May 3rd 2018 update – Good news – after some social media coverage, the home Office has agreed to let Bunmi work for six months while they look at her case. she has two chidlren born and bred here, one of whom has a British citizenship, the fairest thing would surely be to grant indefinite leave to remain.

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Another victim of the #HostileEnvironment

Please Act now and Write to Sajid Javid Home secretary Calling on him to grant leave to remain and the right to work to Bunmi, a Glasgow Care Home Worker.

Last week, Bunmi Olowolagba was suspended without pay from her job at a Glasgow care home. the reason? The home Office had not provided written acknowledgement of her application for leave to remain and the right to work. Despite complying fully with the hostile environment, her employer effectively turned immigration officer and told her to leave the Care home immediately despite Bunmi working there for over two years. Bunmi now faces losing her job for good and returning to a life of destitution with her children unless she can prove by Friday 4 May that she is awaiting a Home Office decision on her right to work. For more info email home@positiveactionh.org

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said he favours a “compliant environment” for immigrants.  

For Bunmi Olowolagba, it makes little difference. Despite “complying” with the Home Office, last week, her employer at a Glasgow Care home suspended her without pay immediately because her limited leave to remain ended 4 days earlier and she could not prove that she was awaiting the outcome of an application for Indefinite Leave.  

Bunmi is a 43 year old care worker and mother of two children, a girl aged 12 and a boy aged 8.  Originally from Nigeria, she has lived more than a decade in the UK. After waiting many years for the home office to resolve her asylum claim, she was granted discretionary leave to remain first in 2012 and then again on 22nd April 2015. Bunmi’s daughter is a British citizen, and her son was born in Scotland. Bunmi is saving money to get him his papers so he does not face a windrush fiasco later on in life.

Last Thursday, while Amber Rudd’s position as Home secretary was increasingly in doubt after she admitted “inadvertently” misleading Parliament over immigration targets, Bunmi’s troubles had just begun. She said:

At about 12.30pm on Thursday 26 April, my manager called me into the office. He told me that my immigration leave to remain expired 4 days ago. I said yes, I reapplied for indefinite leave to remain. He said when.  I said on March 29th and I am still waiting for an acknowledgement letter from the home Office. I said I have a record of the Home Office removing the fee from my bank account. £2297. I asked him to speak to my lawyer to confirm it. My manager said he needs the Home office to confirm that I am allowed to work. Immediately I called my lawyer but she was busy at the time. I returned to do my work. After 15 minutes, the Nurse on Duty called me and my manager was there with the Nurse on duty and one other lady who was taking minutes.

He said it was bad news.   I said what. He said he has to  suspend me without pay. I said why.  He said because I don’t have any reason to be there because I don’t have the right documents, at present I am not legal to work. And I said well this whole thing happened within one hour, not even an hour, and you haven’t even made any check or anything. He said he  can’t take that risk because I’m not supposed to be at work if I don’t have the right papers or the right documents. I said I’ve called my lawyer, I’ve reapplied and I’m still waiting for the home office acknowledgement letter. He said well there’s nothing he can do and I have to be suspended without pay with immediate effect.  I said okay can I finish my days work? And he said No, the suspension starts immediately.

I went out of the office. It was after I went out the nurse on duty called me and she asked what happened. I told her everything. She was reassuring me that I shouldn’t worry, that that’s just life and everything will fall in place. The nurse said I should wait and speak to my lawyer while she was there. My lawyer got back to me and said that I have to give the phone to my manager. My lawyer explained things to him that he is supposed to check online to verify my position, which he did. After filling and submitting the form online, he was told that they will get back to him within 3 to 4 working day. However he said his decision still stood and he was suspending me without pay immediately . He said if I don’t produce any documentation before Friday May 4, 2018 then he will terminate my employment with the company. Despite being employed at the Care Home for over two years, I was suspended without pay and effectively labelled an illegal immigrant in the space of less than an hour.

I tried to explain things but he said he had taken legal advice from their lawyer and as a result there’s nothing he can do because I don’t have any legal status to be at work.  I was in shock. I started crying. I felt bad. I felt SO bad because I wasn’t given the opportunity or time to get things sorted to show my legal right to work. But a decision was made within one hour, I felt bad because I was let down by the place of work because I  was working there for over two years. And if one is working in the company for two years and is being treated that way it’s really, really sad. If such things happen there’s a procedure the company should take to check or verify. Giving me a suspension without pay is like just making me feel like I’m not worth anything.  So what will I do ? Punish me for something that I didn’t do? Or something that I’m still waiting for? That I’ve paid the fee? I’ve sent the application?

When I left my work I was still in shock, I couldn’t think, I was trying to calm myself, just thinking about the whole thing, because I have to pay bills, I have to pay rent, I have to take care of my two kids. So now I don’t know how long this will take. I don’t know  whether it will take months. I can’t even go back to benefits … I think My benefits are still running at the moment but I don’t know what to say to them, going back there and telling them what happened, might even stop the benefits I’m still getting, the child tax credit and child benefit. I couldn’t control my emotions, I was crying , I got home , and when my kids saw me they were shocked, because they thought I would finish late at night , they said mummy your supposed to finish work at eight, what happened. When I told them they just felt sad, but there was nothing else I could do.

Theresa May and the home Office should know that any inaction or delayed action does have dire-consequences on vulnerable migrants and our children. Taking 4 to 6 weeks to send a simple acknowledgment letter to confirm the submission of an immigration application is unreasonable as employers are taking punitive action against us because we have nothing to show that we submitted an application to the home Office. In my case, I was suspended without pay on the same day by my employer because I could not present an acknowledgment letter for the immigration application that I submitted four weeks previously. I’m a single parent with two kids and my employer has informed me that my employment will be terminated if i  don’t present the acknowledgment letter by Friday the 4th of May 2018. I work, pay my taxes and I am now being punished for an action which is not my fault but that of the home Office. I think this is grossly unfair and our lives should not be turned upside down because the home Office cannot get its act together. I need help urgently to prevent myself and my children going into destitution.”

Bunmi Olowolagba

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PLEASE ACT NOW

Write to the new Home Secretary – Ask Sajid Javid, home Secretary to provide Bunmi Olowolagba with her home office papers to renew her leave to remain so that she can keep her job, look after her young children and pay her rent. See model letter here

Write to Bunmi’s employer – Ask Bunmi’s employer to reinstate her until the Home Office verifies her application for indefinite leave to remain.See model letter here.