Minister’s former cleaner Isabella Acevedo deported to Colombia
Mark Harper’s former cleaner was taken from her room at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre shortly after midnight.
Isabella Acevedo, the Colombian cleaner who worked for the Tory minister Mark Harper, has been deported after being taken from her room in Yarl’s Wood shortly after midnight, according to her supporters..
The 47-year-old, who was arrested at her daughter’s wedding a fortnight ago, had been told she could be removed any time between 11.59pm on Wednesday and 15 August. Two immigration officers took her away at 12.06am, still in her pyjamas and with no specific warning, the campaigner Trenton Oldfield said.
She later called her family in Colombia and told them she would be arriving there on Thursday, after flying via Madrid.
Deepa Naik, Oldfield’s wife, said: “What type of country pulls people from their sleep after midnight in their pyjamas? It is a country that is simultaneously ignorant and deeply vindictive.”
Acevedo had worked as Harper’s cleaner for seven years until February, when the then minister for immigration discovered she did not, as he had believed, have leave to remain in the UK.
He resigned, but two weeks ago was reappointed to the government as minister for disabled people.
Three days after he got his new job, Acevedo was summoned from a ceremony room in Haringey town hall minutes before her 19-year-old daughter was due to be married and arrested by about seven immigration enforcement officers.
Acevedo’s lawyer, Gerard Hall, said the Home Office had confirmed her “removal without incident” when he called them on Thursday morning.
She had previously been due to be deported last Thursday, but the removal was cancelled at the last minute due to what immigration officials called “potential for disruption by third parties”.
Campaigners had planned to protest at Heathrow that night. Acevedo was then given the 15-day window for deportation.
Hall, who visited Acevedo on Wednesday night, said he had never seen this tactic used in 20 years of handling immigration cases. “On all other occasions we’ve been provided with notification of a date, time and flight details – all that would be required to for us to obtain an injunction if necessary,” he said. “My personal view is that that was done to frustrate efforts to assist her.”
Acevedo’s daughter, Paulina, said she had spoken to her distressed mother on the phone on Wednesday.
“She was scared she was going to be removed,” she said. “Then I woke up at 5am and found all these messages on my phone saying ‘they’ve taken your mum’. I can’t understand why they couldn’t even have given her a date [for her removal]. They took her when she was probably sleeping, still in her pyjamas. I don’t understand how they can do something like this.
“I’m so angry. I didn’t even see her on the day of my wedding. Just as I was walking round the corner to the venue I saw her from afar. She was giving me signs to come in, and that’s when they [immigration officials] took me into this separate room.
“I didn’t know they were taking my mum. I couldn’t even say anything to her, or give her a hug.”