The Tories’ ill-advised tightening of the immigration laws in 2014 has highlighted the crass insensitivity of Theresa May and Amber Rudd, as well as giving Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters another opportunity to tell the world that their man warned what would happen well before the stuff hit the fan. But what is not well-known is that this mess does not just mean problems for those born in the West Indies before 1972.
That would affect those aged over 45. But John Ingram is just 39. And he can’t get a passport because the Home Office will not accept his birth certificate as proof of identity. So he can’t prove, to their satisfaction, who he is. He has not yet been threatened with deportation, but give them time, and all that. In any case, where would he go?
Ingram “was born in Germany while his parents were serving in the RAF”, but “his birth certificate was rejected when he tried to get a passport for a trip to Spain … he was born in a British military hospital in 1979 where his parents were serving and only spent two months in Germany. He has lived in the UK ever since and has never held a passport”.
Why is there a problem? “The Home Office rejected his birth certificate as proof of identity as it was issued by the British Consulate … the Home Office had wanted a German birth certificate as proof of his identity. But as he was born in a British military hospital he said ‘it doesn't exist, because I am not German … They keep moving the goal posts, they keep saying whatever I give them is not good enough’”.
Sound familiar? While the BBC has reported that “Mr Ingram said he had contacted his MP and had complained to the Home Office about the way his case was being treated, which has since been escalated”, their report also notes “His story comes amid the Windrush scandal, where some immigrants who came to the UK from the Commonwealth decades ago have been threatened with deportation or refused jobs or healthcare”.
John Ingram - can't prove he's British. Yet
There must be scores more service families whose children have been born while they were serving in Germany - or, indeed, elsewhere. Likewise consular staff and their families. But our immigration laws are clearly so screwed that being born in a British military hospital that happens to be in Germany renders someone liable to be refused a passport because their papers don’t enable them to clear the Home Office’s high bar.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking down for John Ingram: “with the holiday approaching in June he says he is running out of time to get the situation resolved. ‘It cost us a lot of money and she [his partner] doesn't want to go unless we can all go together, but how do you prove you are British?,’ he said”. Meanwhile, Amber Rudd is still clinging on.
That’s what happens when you make policy at the behest of the Daily Mail. I’ll just leave that one there.