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Darrell and Darren Roberts: sister of twins at risk of deportation talks of ‘constant fear’

Darrell, left, and Darren Roberts when they were children
Darrell, left, and Darren Roberts when they were children

The 25-year-olds have previously been warned they could be removed to Grenada and Dominica

The sister of twin brothers born in London who could be at risk of deportation to separate Caribbean countries has spoken to The Voice about the “constant fear” that accompanies those facing removal from the UK.

This summer it was reported that Darrell and Darren Roberts were at risk of deportation. Their father was born in Dominica, and their mother was born in Grenada. Darren was believed to face deportation to his mother’s country of birth. Darrell was at risk of deportation to the Dominican Republic, though none of his parents were born there.

While the brothers’ legal team are fighting to secure their right to remain in the UK, Freya, one of their siblings, said she won’t be able to rest “until there’s a letter that says that they’re British citizens, they’ve got leave to remain and they can stay here”.

Darrell and Darren Roberts, 25, are currently in prison after being convicted of grievous bodily harm in relation to separate incidents.

Foreign nationals who receive a custodial sentence of at least 12 months automatically face deportation.

The brothers were placed in care aged 13 following the death of their mother, and an uncle who cared for them. Their father, who was from Dominica, left the UK prior to their mother’s death.

Ealing Council has been accused of failing the twins by not sorting out their British Citizenship when they were in the care of children’s services.

The council has offered to assist with the brothers’ applications but while this intervention has been welcome, the twins’s now need more than help with paperwork.

“That’s good but that doesn’t remove the barriers to get citizenship. You need to pass a good character requirement and obviously given my brothers’ incarceration time – that’s a problem that they’re going to come up against,” Freya said.

She is calling on the Home Office to consider the impact of childhood when deciding whether someone meets the good character requirement for British citizenship.

“It doesn’t look at the environment that the individual was brought up in. Given my brothers’ circumstances, they were kids so they didn’t naturalise themselves,” Freya said.

Sharnae, another of the Roberts siblings, has organised a petition challenging current guidelines.

Andrew Sperling, managing director at SL5 Legal, who is acting for the twins in relation to matters relating to their detention in prison, said: “Darrell and Darren Roberts had to deal with tragedy and trauma at a very young age and grew up under the care of their local authority.”

He explained: “Darrell should have been released from custody in May of this year. He was kept in prison for several weeks longer because the Home Office detained him under immigration powers and told him that they were considering deporting him to a country he has never been to in his life. He should not have had to deal with the stress and anxiety of this terrible situation on top of the difficulties he was already facing.”

Sperling added that Darren’s mental health has deteriorated and expressed concern that he is not getting the care and attention he needs to recover.

“They both need help and support to rebuild their lives in the community. The state has responsibilities towards both of them. There will be other British care-leavers who will experience the same kind of cruel and heartless treatment that the Roberts brothers have faced unless the state begins to takes these responsibilities more seriously,” Sperling said.

While not at risk of deportation, Freya, who is a British citizen, said it feels like “if they can remove one sibling, they could do it to any of us.”

Her brothers Darrel and Darren were born in the UK and have never left.

She spoke of those issued deportation orders and their families living in a state of “constant fear”.

Smita Bajaria, director of Bajaria Solicitors and the immigration solicitor for both brothers, said: “I am hoping that this is going to be resolved but we’ve got more work to do.”

She added: “The wider issue here is about the processes which the Home Office choose to use in order to locate and track down foreign national offenders in the prison estate.

“The incarceration, initially from the criminal courts, with the double punishment that the Home Office imposes, it’s a very difficult process to navigate.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Where we are informed that an individual, who has been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison may not have residency rights, the public expects we investigate thoroughly, particularly where high harm offences are involved.”

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