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Non-Verbal Black Teenager Who Never Left Home Before, Detained At Immigration Center After Going Missing From Hospital
A non-verbal Black teenager who has never set foot outside of the UK was detained in an immigration center after going missing from a hospital.
A mother, horrified by the events that occurred for her 17-year-old non-verbal son, shared how after disappearing from a hospital in Kent, UK, he was found at an immigration detention center after going missing while being treated for psychosis.
After disappearing from the hospital where he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act on 7 April, two days later he was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) at Euston station after suspicion of not having paid his fare.
Being unable to communicate with the teenager while in police custody in Islington, London police then took his fingerprints and sent him to Home Office immigration enforcement. There the unnamed teen was held in an immigration detention near Gatwick, despite being a British citizen who has never traveled outside of the UK.
“Because he’s Black they just assumed ‘let’s pick him and put him in a deportation centre’” said the mother in a recent statement.
Upon returning home, the boy’s clothes contained Home Office documents that incorrectly stated his name and date of birth and recorded his nationality as Nigerian.
“How do they know he’s from Nigeria, when he doesn’t even speak to them?” questioned the mother, outraged at the process her son had been through.
The Guardian reports that in one document, it states his removal from the UK was “imminent” because he had failed to give “satisfactory or reliable answers” to immigration officers. After this immigration officers prepared to deport the boy on the grounds that he hadn’t given officers “satisfactory or reliable answers”.
James Wilson the deputy director of Detention Action, which works with people facing removal, said unaccompanied minors or children under the age of 18 should not be in detention in the first place. “In theory, detention should be an absolute last resort, rather than an early step you would go to,” he said.
More, as someone who communicates non-verbally, the Black teen had the right to have an ‘interpreter’ present while being interviewed or questioned. It is unclear whether BTP assisted in providing the non-verbal black teenager with this option.
A Home Office spokesperson mentioned that “We rely on information provided by our policing partners when an individual is referred to Immigration Enforcement. In this case, the individual declared himself to British Transport Police to be an adult male. Police nurses assessed him and raised no physical or mental health issues.”
BTP stated they were reviewing the incident internally.