Chesterfield community rallies around former refugee and 'faultless' citizen threatened with deportation to Iraq
A former refugee from war-torn Iraq who has built a new and ‘faultless' life in Chesterfield is being threatened with deportation.
Sherko Ismail, 42, left the Middle Eastern country in 2003, amidst the Second Gulf War, trekking across mountains and paying smugglers to reach the UK.
His childhood memories in northern Iraq are of people he knew being murdered and says he had to get out of that ‘horrible place’.
Sherko, an IT technician, has learnt English, paid his way through university to get a computing degree and has his own successful business.
His supporters say he has twice been granted ‘leave to remain’ by the Home Office to stay, live, and work in Britain.
However, earlier this year ‘out of the blue’ the Home Office informed Sherko, an Iraqi Kurd, by letter that he now faces removal from the country he calls home.
Sherko has been told he does not fit into any of the categories for the Home Office to renew the leave to remain – and he is now appealing against this decision.
"When you live in Iraq your memories are just of war, killings and genocide,” Sherko, who lives in Inkersall, said.
"After 18 years living a life as a citizen here, committing no crime and working hard, how can I go back to a place where it is not my people?
"I don’t even speak the language or know the place they would send me.
"I have no words to describe how I felt when the Home Office told me.”
Sherko says he has nothing left in Iraq to go back to.
He has no Iraqi passport or identity papers, and as a member of the minority Kurdish community could face persecution and arrest on arrival in Baghdad.
He admits he is ‘embarrassed’ by the situation and does not want ‘any fuss’ but says the home Office has been ‘unacceptable’ in its treatment of him.
Sherko is also very thankful for the help of people in Chesterfield who are supporting his case and have set up a petition to prevent him being uprooted from his home.
James Eaden, president of Chesterfield and District Trades Union Council, who is organising the petition, said after arriving penny-less and destitute, Sherko is now a ‘credit to his community’.
"He has studied hard, speaks fluent English and three years ago obtained a computing degree from Sheffield University.
"Now he runs a successful IT business which has a great reputation among his customers here in Chesterfield. Also he has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and has a family life as an active and engaged step-parent.
“Sherko has volunteered in local schools and community groups. He has lived a faultless life in Britain for the past 18 years and has never been in any trouble with the police or legal system. He hasn’t even had a parking ticket!”
More than 40 people in the community have provided witness statements to court supporting Sherko and volunteered to appear as witnesses to support his application for leave to remain.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules.”
To sign the petition, entitled Sherko Must Stay, visit the Change.org site here