Another Home Office scandal: Renford McIntyre, Commonwealth citizen threatened with deportation

They have lived nearly all their lives in the UK, working and paying taxes. But in the draconian new immigration climate, an increasing number of elderly people are being told that they are here illegally

UK Immigration blunders

‘I’ve paid into the kitty – now no one wants to help me’ … Renford McIntyre in the industrial unit where he lives. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

For the past year, Renford McIntyre has been homeless, mostly sleeping on a sofa in an unheated industrial unit in Dudley. Although he has lived in the UK for almost 50 years, and spent 35 years working and paying taxes as a tool setter, a delivery man in the meat industry and an NHS driver, he has been told that he is not British – and consequently is neither permitted to work nor eligible for any government support.

McIntyre, 64, has no shower and nowhere to cook, and has to visit friends if he wants to eat hot food or wash. “It’s an appalling place to live. I’m a proud man; I’m embarrassed at my age to be living like this,” he says.

He was surprised and confused to be told he was not British. He arrived in the UK in 1968 by plane from Jamaica. He was 14 and had come to join his mother, who had come over to become a nurse, and his father, who was working as a crane driver. “I’ve been here for almost 50 years, I’ve worked night and day, I’ve paid into the kitty – but now no one wants to help me,” he says.

In 2014, a routine request from his final employers to update paperwork revealed that he didn’t have a passport and had never naturalised in the UK. He was sacked. Unable to find new work without papers, he became depressed, and then homeless. Dudley council said he was not eligible for emergency housing because he had no right to be in the country. Similarly, he has been told he cannot sign on for benefits.

He has gathered together paperwork showing 35 years of National Insurance contributions, with the support of the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton, but the Home Office has returned the application, requesting further evidence. “It makes me so angry. I’ve always worked. I’m a grafter. I can’t explain how bad it makes me feel,” he says.

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