(Jamaica Gleaner) London, England:A Jamaican pastor, gospel artiste and gospel-festival winner, Elder Oliver Ashley, who arrived in Britain 13 years ago to be with his wife, is now in a detention centre facing deportation next Wednesday.
Speaking from Dover Immigration Removal Centre, Ashley said he was taken from his matrimonial home and was being treated like a criminal.
Ashley, who won the Jamaica Gospel Song Contest in 1991 with Come Down, Jesus, said he tried on many occasions to get permanent-resident status without success, and he was eventually picked up by UK Border Agency three months ago and has been booked to be deported on September 4.
“I don’t see myself as a criminal. I have been taken away from my matrimonial home. I have applied to get my stay here two years ago, since my wife got indefinite leave to remain,” he said.
TRAVELLED ON VISITOR’S PERMIT
Ashley highlighted that his dilemma began after he arrived in Britain in 2001 on a visitor’s permit, and not knowing how to legalise his status, he overstayed, while his wife worked as a nurse.
“I first applied to get my immigration status regularised as an artiste and a songwriter and it was turned down with an offer to appeal. I applied again as a spouse, and it was turned down without an offer of appeal. I have been signing on since then; trying to do what they ask me to do. I went to sign on and they then brought me to this place (Dover detention centre). It’s a prison! I don’t eat the food here. I asked them to give me some vegetables and that was ignored. I have to buy noodles and other things from the tuck shop. I am a victim of the ‘Go Home or Be Arrested’ programme,” the pastor lamented.
The 53-year-old said the Human Rights Court has turned down his case and he has now appealed to the High Court to be able to remain with his wife.