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THE government’s “hostile environment” is threatening to split a family in Newcastle by forcing a husband and father to return to Australia.
A campaign was launched by the University and College Union (UCU) today to persuade Home Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene.
Alison Atkinson-Phillips moved to Australia as a teenager, but returned to north-east England with her family in January this year to take up a research post at the University of Newcastle.
Her husband Jeff came initially on a tourist visa and then in August applied for remain to leave in Britain. Now he has been given two weeks to get out.
The couple have two children, both British citizens, a son who works in a pub and a daughter who is settled at school.
Jeff has been told to leave or be deported. The family has appealed against the decision. The alternative to being split up is for the whole family to leave Newcastle and go to Australia.
UCU said that the case suggested that, despite Mr Javid saying the Home Office’s “hostile environment” era was over, its legacy appears to live on.
The union also said the case risked sending a message out to the rest of the world that Britain was unwelcoming and closed for business.
UCU’s support for the family comes after a petition was launched by Ms Atkinson-Phillips at the weekend demanding Mr Javid reverse the decision.
The petition, on change.org, also calls for changes to rules to allow other British citizens the right to return to Britain with their long-term spouse.
Ms Atkinson-Phillips said: “I find it very upsetting that my country of birth doesn’t seem to care about keeping me or my children here, or value the contribution we are able to make to the UK.
“The Home Office may think there are no insurmountable obstacles to us upping sticks and moving halfway around the world, but we see things differently. I do not want to give up my job or have to move the kids now they are settled here.”
The Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases.
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