A schoolgirl asylum seeker snatched by immigration officers in a dawn raid spoke yesterday of her joy at returning to Scotland.
Grace Waku, 12, told how she was driven away from her home weeping with her family, including her four-year-old brother, who was born here.
Home Office officials kept them in vans for 12 hours without any meals before they finally arrived at a detention centre in London, where they were crammed into one room for a week.
Grace, who has lived in Glasgow for six years, said: “We were put into vans with cages and taken away from our home and friends without being able to tell them where we were going.
“They told us that we were going to be deported. But we did not want to leave our home and all the people who care about us. I did not think that such a thing could happen in Scotland.”
But Grace and her family were back in Glasgow last night after winning a last-minute reprieve blocking their deportation to their strife-torn home country in central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She and her dad Max, 42, mum Onoya, 41, and brothers Jean Marc, 15, and Genuine are well-known and just want to be able to work and contribute to the community here.
Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, Kathleen Marshall, said: “The abrupt removal of these children from their schools and communities affects not only them but their friends and their teachers.
“What we are doing is scandalous. We are treating our children shamefully. We are disrespecting their finest feelings of friendship and compassion for those in distress. The institutional response tempts me to despair.”
Almost 900 of Grace’s fellow pupils at Lourdes High School signed a petition and handed it to First Minister Jack McConnell at the Scottish Parliament, demanding that the family be allowed to stay in the country.
Human rights lawyer Fraser Latta won the first round in the process for a judicial review in the Court of Session.
Latta said: “That means the Scottish courts will now examine whether the deportation of a family who have lived here for six years and have a son born here contravenes Article Eight of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states that everyone has a right to private family life.”
Despite a Home Office move to have Max remain in their custody, Latta secured bail during an immigration court hearing last Thursday.
The family’s church, the Castlemilk Community Church, helped him by posting £1000 bail.
The Court of Session will hear the case at the end of May and the decision may set a precedent for hundreds of other failed asylum seekers who have been living in Scotland for more than five years.
Full story at Sunday Mail.