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Student deportation 'must go ahead'
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire insisted today that a Mauritian student must be deported as her sobbing mother watched on.
The Conservative said all the facts of the case involving 19-year-old Yashika Bageerathi had been considered but were not deemed to be of the "exceptional nature" required for intervention.
A-level student Yashika, whose case has sparked a petition that has attracted around 155,000 signatures, has been detained at Yarl's Wood immigration centre, near Bedford, on a number of occasions and was due to be deported on Mother's Day but her removal was deferred.
Mr Brokenshire remained steadfast on the controversial decision despite pleas from fellow MPs to show "compassion" as he appeared before the Commons Home Affairs select committee.
A tearful Mrs Bageerathi appeared briefly before the committee, breaking down as she told the committee: "I saw her (on) Mother's Day."
She called for the minister to free her daughter from Yarl's Wood, adding "it's not a place for her, it's a place that is cruel".
David Burrowes, Tory MP for Enfield Southgate, who has campaigned for the Home Office to review its decision, said the minister had not considered his representations about the case.
"What I saw was a predetermined decision having been made," he said. "We were concerned in these details that really affect lives that there is proper compassion and fairness."
He added: "We need to look humanely at every individual case at every point right up to the very end. I don't believe this has happened here."
The first of Yashika's examinations starts on May 14 and the final one will be held on June 23, the committee was told.
Lynne Dawes, headteacher of the Oasis Academy Hadley, north London, said the teenager had had a 100% attendance record but, despite continuing to study while detained in Yarl's Wood, her grades have slipped.
She told the MPs she had stood surety for Yashika, who had gone to every signing on session she was required to.
Ms Dawes said: "I'm very, very concerned. I know she is 19 but she is quite a quiet, reserved young 19 year old. She's finding it very, very difficult. I know she is significantly younger than the other women there so she spends most of her time away from the other women in her room."
Promising student Yashika came to the UK to escape a relative who was physically abusive and claimed asylum last summer.
The committee heard that Yashika 's age means she is not protected by deportation rules that protect children sitting examinations.
Mandie Campbell, director general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, who considered the case, said: "The guidance was designed specifically for children going through an education process."
Mr Brokenshire suggested there would be a risk of Yashika absconding if she was released from the detention centre.
He added: "We are obviously considering this case. Given that I've been clear on saying that I don't think it is appropriate for ministers, and the Home Secretary has equally made that point, for us to intervene therefore we believe that deportation should proceed."