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It’s a Friday morning in Wolverhampton, and the local branch of the Refugee and Migrant Centre (RMC) is teeming with people seeking advice. Despite the sombre reasons why many come to the RMC (homelessness, destitution, the threat of deportation) there is a jubilant atmosphere.

Babies gurgle and toddlers wheel toy trucks over the floor. Families have come to tell their stories of how the RMC helped them. A colourful display of thank you cards is spread across the wall. “Stay blessed,” says one.

Ahmed Hassan is one of the thousands of people who have benefited from the RMC’s advice. When we meet, he has just been told he will receive a bravery award from West Midlands police for holding back a man who attacked an officer in the street and tried to run away. Hassan has not always been treated with such respect by the British authorities.

He came to England as a refugee from Iraq after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2000. He changed his name when he got to Britain for fear of being found. For seven years he lived happily, receiving his British passport in 2007; working as a taxi driver; visiting Iraq frequently and marrying and having four children there. He changed his name back to his birth name, then, in February 2016, the Home Office contacted Hassan to be interviewed over his British citizenship. His British passport, which he had sent to be renewed, still has not been handed back.

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source: The Guardian
published: 28 December 2018

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