‘I felt like dirt’: disabled Canadian woman told to leave UK after 44 years
Margaret OBriens treatment by Home Office suggests scandal goes beyond Windrush generation
Margaret OBrien, 69, moved from Canada to Wolverhampton in 1971, got married, had three children and worked for the local council for more than 25 years as a dinner lady, meals on wheels driver, lollipop lady and cleaner.
A spinal injury a few years ago meant she had to give up her job, leading her to apply for benefits for the first time. In 2015, she was told her disability payments had been suspended because she was an illegal immigrant.
OBrien received a letter stating: Home Office records indicate that you do not have permission to be in the UK. You should make arrangements to leave without delay.
The letter informed her of our intention to remove you from the UK to your country of nationality if you do not depart voluntarily. No further notice will be given.
If she decided to stay, the letter warned, life in the UK will become increasingly difficult; OBrien was liable to be arrested, prosecuted and face a possible six-month prison sentence.
Her case is significant because it shows the Home Offices treatment of longstanding Commonwealth-born UK residents is not restricted to the Windrush generation, but is likely to extend to people from other Commonwealth countries.