Cats and immigrants/Katzen und Immigranten

In an earlier entry I mentioned the heavily biased reporting of a Bolivian immigrant to the UK who was said to have been allowed to stay to look after his cat – whereas the acquisition of the cat was just one of several points suggesting that he and his girlfriend planned a long-term relationship.

It seems that Theresa May, the UK home secretary, also believes the tabloid version of this story. The Guardian reports:

The justice secretary told a fringe meeting organised by the Daily Telegraph: “I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out.

“They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat. I’ll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership of a cat.”

A Home Office source later defended May, saying she had been right. The source quoted the judge in the case, who said: “The evidence concerning the joint acquisition of Maya [the cat] by the appellant and his partner reinforces my conclusion on the strength and quality of the family life that appellant and his partner enjoy.

The UK Human Rights Blog has taken this up.

The decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal by Senior Immigration Judge Gleeson (IA/14578/2008), dated 1 December 2008, can be read here. It is only two and a half pages long. Judge Gleeson explained that the reconsideration was granted in reference to

the inappropriate weight placed on the appellant having to leave behind not only his partner but also their joint cat, [ ]

The judge rather cheekily anonymised the cat’s name, which is almost certainly an attempt at humour, given the final line of the judgment:

The Immigration Judge’s determination is upheld and the cat, [ ], need no longer fear having to adapt to Bolivian mice.

Here it appears that the Home Office had failed, until the day of the appeal, to follow guidelines issued earlier that year – and so it would have lost anyway, cat or no cat.

Thereas May has already attracted the attention of human rights lawyers once this week, when she called for the Human Rights Act to be abolished because it had led to decisions against the Home Office. From the same weblog:

The Home Secretary Theresa May’s has told the Sunday Telegraph that she would “like to see the Human Rights Act go“.

There is plenty of nonsense out there about the Human Rights Act. For example Emma McClarkin – a member of the European Parliament no less – said on BBC’s Politics Show (at 5:15) that we are “hamstrung by the European Charter of Human Rights”; a charter which does not exist.

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