The following blog is from Let Us Learn project worker, Dami Makinde. Dami was born in Nigeria and brought to the UK when she was 8 years old. She remained ‘undocumented’ until she was 21. Here she describes sharing her story with the minister for immigration and why she is now calling on the next London mayor to stand up and make change.
Back in February 2016 I met with James Brokenshire MP. Mr Brokenshire is the Minister for Security and Immigration at the Home Office. He has the authority to change the lives of migrants living in the UK. Sitting opposite the minister, I realised I was the voice for thousands of people who felt choked and cheated by the current immigration rules. I understood that he would probably never have heard first-hand the testimony of someone like me, whose life could be changed by the decisions he makes. I knew I had a job to do.
My role was to tell my story. It is a story of struggle and hardship, of a young migrant, living in the UK since they were a child, forced to hide for fourteen years until the Home Office deemed her ‘lawful’. I needed Mr Brokenshire to go home that evening thinking about my story and trying to understand even a small fragment of the pain that I had suffered. I also wanted to know exactly where he stood on the long route to settled status and indefinite leave to remain, which will now take another ten years of my life.
After pouring my heart out, I felt a sense of peace. I could see the hurt in his eyes and the sympathy he had for our circumstances. But he made it clear that my story alone would not change his mind. I believe his words were, “we need a tighter way for immigration control”. I had given everything and shared my darkest times, but he made it clear that the ten year route would remain.
Yet I was not dejected. This fight is not yet over. That day, I understood that we do have power and together we can have influence.
We will demonstrate our power by demanding change, in London, from the two main candidates hoping to become our next mayor: Zac Goldsmith MP and Sadiq Khan MP. Let Us Learn campaigner Cynthia has already spoken with Mr. Goldsmith to tell him of our intentions, and to demand that he establish an Office for Citizenship and Integration. This office would be responsible for ensuring young migrants in London are informed and supported and that more young Londoners register as British.
Thursday 28th April – Meeting the next London mayor
On Thursday 28th April, Let Us Learn will gather in numbers, at a public meeting with 6000 other citizens, to ask both candidates to commit to helping young migrants and to establishing this new office. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We must show the candidates that we stand united and that we have power. Please, stand with us.