Spotlight on BID's Separated Families: Emma & Ali's story

Elliot Fry

posted on 30 Jun 2016

BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) is an independent charity that exists to challenge immigration detention. Last year, they helped reunite 110 families torn apart by immigration detention by providing vital legal advice to parents in detention, supporting them to apply for bail and to challenge their deportation. Emma's partner, Ali, is from Afghanistan and has been living in the UK for 15 years. They met in 2002 and have been together since. They have four sons: Sam (13), David (9), and twins Joseph and James (4). The children are all British. Ali was in prison, but instead of being released once he had served his time, he found himself transferred to an immigration detention centre while the government tried to deport him to Afghanistan, a country he had fled in fear of his life and had not set foot in for 15 years. Neither Ali, nor Emma or the children knew how long he would be kept locked up.

Read Emma and Ali’s story, in their own words:

What was the impact of Ali’s detention on you and your family?

Detention had a terrible impact on me and my family. It was very emotional, we were heartbroken. I didn’t know if Ali was going to be deported, it ripped the children apart. It was so horrible. I felt so alone, we all felt very insecure. He had always been around, he is as close to the kids as he is to me. It had a dramatic effect and was really bad for the kids. I didn’t know whether to lie to them. I mean I wasn’t sure if they could cope with knowing as they are only children. Their teacher at school said that they’d noticed a change in David’s behaviour. He had become more alone in the class, not mixing much with other children, he was very alone. And the oldest, his behaviour had also changed at school- they were normally top of their class. Their school work was affected. The eldest one was worrying about me and how I could cope- he took on the role of the father and top of everything I have the twins too. We used to visit Ali regularly in prison, but we couldn’t do that in detention, it was too far away. It was David’s birthday the day after Ali was due to be released from prison. We had it all planned, how we would celebrate his birthday when his dad was released. Instead they took him to detention. We planned the party with the older two and it all went to pieces.

How did you fight for Ali’s freedom?

We had no money and no solicitors. We couldn’t raise enough money. I sold things to pay for a solicitor to put in the one stop notice but we couldn’t afford anything else. I was quoted £2,500 from a solicitor to do a bail application. We didn’t have a penny and we had nowhere to turn. That’s when we found out about BID BID represented Ali in his bail application and he was released. They then advised us that he should put in a fresh asylum claim because he was refused asylum in 2002. BID did this for us and they also represented him in his deportation appeal. BID made us very secure. At the court hearing, the barrister came and she was amazing. BID was great, actually better than any solicitor I have known. Ali won his case on asylum, humanitarian protection and human rights grounds and now has indefinite leave to remain


Now this nightmare is all over, I think there have been long lasting effects on my children. They are always insecure about the government and the Home Office. They say if Ali gets pulled over for driving badly or something we would all be scared. Thanks to BID our lives today are brilliant. Ali’s got his stay, we are moving forward, hoping for the best and looking to the future. We want to ensure our children are well educated. We are a happy family again. Ali wants to open his own business and to get some qualifications and we are doing research on this at the moment. I think that it’s important people know about our experience, so that people in the same situation know that there is always hope. When I was told Ali was facing deportation it was awful and then when we found BID we found hope. And also that people support BID to help other people who are less fortunate, who are going through a bad situation like we did, to help keep families together.

Ali’s words

I thought that I was never going to see my children again. I was very scared about being deported to Afghanistan because my dad was killed there. I thought I would either die or at the very least never see my children again. In detention I couldn’t sleep at night. I got used to prison, when I was in prison I could see my family every week, but moving from prison to detention, detention was worse. I kept seeing people getting deported. It was an awful experience. I thank BID so much for their help. I will never forget it.

BID Separated Families has just raised £5,000 to help another 20 children to be reunited with their parents. You can pledge to support this project through CrowdJustice here.

*Please note that names have been changed in order to protect the identity of our clients and their children.

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