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Home Office calls for “Voluntary Deportation” of Progressive Café Founder

Leave to Remain | 01.02.2006 14:34 | Anti-racism | Culture | Migration | Repression | Birmingham

Having lived in Birmingham since age 10, successful community café founder, publisher and activist Sam Alim is being asked to voluntarily return to his home country of Bangladesh by the Home Office.

Sam Alim pictured with supporter Claire Short at Cafe One
Sam Alim pictured with supporter Claire Short at Cafe One

Sam Alim is the founder of Birmingham’s Fairtrade community venue Café One and creator of WhatsOnUk, a free progressive newspaper aimed at students. Having been involved in publishing 10 years Sam has had the opportunity to be outspoken on issues of multiculturalism, UK economy and social injustices – as well as his own activism. The progressive agenda of both the café and magazine had first attracted fruitless police attention, and has now become the victim of Home Office bureaucracy. Home Office representative C Jameson states: “Mr Alim’s application for leave to remain on the basis of long residence is to be refused.”

The dispute arose from Sam’s “Leave to Remain” application to the Home Office. The applicant must prove that they have been continuously resided in the UK for at least fourteen years. Sam provided the necessary documents – such as school reports and employment references – to substantiate this. However, the Home Office suggested a discrepancy in his whereabouts between 1991 and 2005, a time frame for which Sam has proved his residence in the UK. Even without presenting such documents it is glaringly obvious where Mr Alim was, as any colleague or customer of the café or magazine could assure. Even someone simply reading the magazine would see his name in the editorial credits. More baffling is that the period highlighted by the Home Office is outside the necessary fourteen years of qualifying residence in the country, and should not need to be proven.

“The Home Office has just moved the goal posts to make it more difficult for me to stay. It’s laughable,” Mr Alim said of his treatment.

Sadly, this demonstrates that the government has created an impenetrable wall of bureaucracy that is slowly making it impossible for internationals to setup small business in the UK. Sam’s departure could mean that its 50 strong workforce of students and graduates would lose their jobs, and Birmingham could lose one of its main activist hubs. Sam does feel that relocating the business to Bangladesh would create employment for creative young people in his mother country. However, he is reluctant to become another victim of the system and is disinclined to leave his friends, home and colleagues in the UK.

Your support is welcome, and Sam can be contacted for interviews and comments on 0121 245 0004.

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01.02.2006 17:10

The correct address for the WhatsOnUk student magazine and series of guides is