As a young boy, Jalin Beaksantia would often be left to sleep in his mother’s car parked on the driveway of a Thai restaurant in Preston while she worked inside.
It was just one hardship in a hardscrabble upbringing which saw Jalin move to Lancashire from Thailand days after his sixth birthday following the marriage of his mother, Kattika, to a Briton. They arrived in Preston nearly three decades ago with “Indefinite Leave to Remain” stamped in their passports. The marriage failed and Kattika fell into the alcoholism – it eventually took her life – and left her such an incapable mother that her only child asked social services himself to be taken into care at the age of 11.
Despite his difficult childhood, Mr Beaksantia, now 33, made efforts to make something of his life, graduating from catering college and in recent years settling down with his partner, Hannah, and their toddler son, Kai. His guiding aspiration, according to his family, was that he should be the sort of hands-on, caring parent that his mother all too rarely was.
But the chances of him achieving that ambition are now under grave threat. The Home Office has ruled Mr Beaksantia, who speaks with a Lancashire accent and apart from a childhood holiday in France has not left British soil for 27 years, will be deported within weeks to Thailand, a country whose language he cannot speak and with which he has not had any contact since 1988.
The reason for this action is that a year ago Mr Beaksantia, while heavily indebted, committed two thefts, including the inept pilfering of £2,300 from the takings of the discount shop where he was working and had risen to the rank of supervisor. They were, in his own words, “stupid crimes” for which he is rightly paying the price with a 12-month prison sentence.
Assault in 2011, for which he received a conditional discharge. But while he recognises and apologises for his crimes, he and his family say he is facing a further punishment out of all proportion to his misdeeds as part of the Government’s efforts to crackdown on foreign criminals by imposing a new “deport first, appeal later” regime on lawbreakers from abroad. As a result, the young father is on suicide watch in jail and described by his partner as “dying inside” as he contemplates being put on a plane to country he does not know.
In a letter from prison seen by The Independent, Mr Beaksantia said he has been left a “broken man” by the deportation order. He said: “What I did was a stupid crime, which I regret and I am serving my punishment. But I’ve been brought up English, educated English and paid my tax and national insurance. So what part of me isn’t English?”
Ministers have put forward the fact that 800 foreign criminals have been deported since last summer under the 2014 Immigration Act as evidence of their determination to deal with the issue of inmates using “spurious claims under the Human Rights Act” to remain in the UK.
The new rules mean anyone sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more can be “certified” for deportation and only appeal once they have left the UK. But critics are increasingly concerned the new measures have tipped the balance too far in the opposite direction and are inflicting draconian sanctions on individuals who have made their lives in Britain and are finding themselves banished after committing relatively minor offences.
Home Secretary Theresa May suffered a blow to the programme last week when it was ruled the Court of Appeal should hear the cases to two foreign criminals who face deportation and argue that they cannot mount a meaningful out-of-country appeal.
The ruling could put a temporary halt on all removals of convicted criminals. But the system hitherto offers little grounds for optimism for those seeking to challenge deportation orders – of 1,135 appeals lodged in the first six month of last year (prior to the introduction of the new system), just 12 were granted. In the case of Mr Beaksantia, the prospect of deportation has been devastating.
One family member told The Independent: “This is effectively the reintroduction of transportation – he is going to be sent to an alien land where he knows nobody, cannot communicate and will be forcibly removed from his family.” The Home Office declined to comment on Mr Beaksantia’s case but defended the “deport first, appeal later” system.