British-born man who has never left UK faces deportation

A 28-year-old British-born man who has never left the country has spoken of his devastation after being told he will be deported to Portugal, from where his parents arrived more than 30 years ago, under a post-Brexit policy towards EU nationals convicted of crimes.

Dmitry Lima was born in Lambeth, in south London, does not speak Portuguese and has never travelled abroad but he was given a deportation order by the Home Office after serving a prison sentence for drugs offences and for carrying a Taser.

Lima, who had no previous convictions, is appealing against the deportation decision on the grounds that he is British and had not previously applied for a UK passport as he could not afford to pay the fees.

Under changes brought in after Brexit, an EU national’s deportation, as with that of any other nationality, is deemed “conducive to the public good and in the public interest” if they have received a prison sentence of more than 12 months.

Previously, EU nationals who had lived in the UK for five years who had been convicted of a crime would have been deported only “on serious grounds of public policy and public security”, with the threshold for those who have been continuously in the country raised to “imperative grounds of public security”.

Lima was convicted on two counts of possession with intent to supply a class A drug and for possession of a prohibited weapon in August 2020, for which he was sentenced to four years and six months in prison, of which he served just over two years.

He was served a deportation order in October 2022 after being moved from prison to Brook House immigration removal centre at Gatwick airport.

In his appeal against deportation, Lima maintains that he is a British citizen as his mother and father were settled in the UK.

In apparent recognition of the position Lima and others are in, the government introduced the British nationality (regularisation of past practice) bill in May 2023 to ensure that people are treated as British if their parents, using the EU right to free movement, came to the UK before 2000 – but the bill is yet to be enacted.

Lima’s lawyer said the Home Office appeared to have no record of his client being in the UK. He said: “Lima’s mother and late father have been exercising their EU treaty rights, thus making Lima a continuous resident of the UK from birth and therefore entitled to British citizenship.

“Shockingly, the Home Office has no record of Mr Lima in the UK. The Home Office also failed to recognise Mr Lima’s article 8 rights [to respect for private life, family life, home and correspondence].”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is longstanding government policy that we do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

His submitted appeal is still pending with the court and there has been no decision yet made on his case.

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