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A Tory MP’s former cleaner faces deportation today after being dragged out of her teenage daughter’s wedding and arrested by immigration officers.
Colombian Isabella Acevedo, who until February was illegally employed for seven years by former immigration minister Mark Harper, has been held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre since Friday.
Her brother was also arrested during the “vindictive” raid.
She is due to be deported on a British Airways flight from Heathrow at 9.50pm tonight.
Speaking from Yarl’s Wood yesterday, Ms Acevedo said: “I was working to support my family. I don’t believe I have done anything wrong.
“I’m not a billionaire hiding money all over the place. I am scared for my safety in Colombia. My family has been torn apart.”
Ms Acevedo asked to be shown the same level of sympathy as Mr Harper, who was reinstated as a junior minister five days ago following his resignation in February after it was revealed he had been employing Ms Acevedo illegally.
“He wasn’t criminalised and has been given a second chance,” she said.
Ms Acevedo is concerned that as a high-profile deportee to Colombia she will be a target, especially given her connection to Mr Harper.
One of the reasons she left the country in 2000 with her then five-year-old child was because her father-in-law was kidnapped.
Ms Acevedo applied for indefinite leave to remain in Britain in 2010 but was turned down because her daughter returned to Colombia for a period as a child. She has since appealed against the decision.
Yesterday evening campaign groups and unions protested against her mistreatment outside the Westminster flat that Ms Acevedo used to clean for the Tory MP.
Mr Harper was responsible for the infamous “go home” vans sent onto Britain’s streets to intimidate illegal immigrants.
Activist and family friend Trenton Oldfield attended the protest.
He was also at the wedding last Friday at Haringey town hall when it was stormed by Border Agency officers.
He told the Morning Star: “Isabella was called out of the room and then it was swamped with border guards.
“It was targeted and vindictive. Everybody was devastated and in shock.
“One of the guards grabbed her really hard and left marks on her arm.”
Mr Oldfield said the guards attempted to stop the wedding by declaring that the paperwork wasn’t in order, however the registrars disagreed and the service went ahead as planned.
Border Agency officers refused to let Ms Acevedo attend the ceremony, instead sending her to Yarl’s Wood where she said she is being kept in conditions that are “designed to humiliate.”
Mr Harper was not available to comment on Ms Acevedo’s imminent deportation or the circumstances surrounding it, while the Home Office said that it cannot comment on individual cases.
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