Yadin Londono was 9 years old when he travelled to England from Colombia. Since then he has made Britain his home; it is his children’s motherland and where he has spent almost his entire life. However, 40 years after his arrival he now potentially faces deportation.
Virginia Moreno Molina
“In 1978 we left for economic reasons, but also because my father was a bit of a revolutionary. He was involved in politics, and in Colombia if you aren’t with the government then you’re a marked man”, he tells us.
Starting out in the British capital wasn’t easy; three of them lived in one room together and Yadin started to attend the local school near his house. This period of his childhood was affected by the difficulty he had learning English and the racism that he faced.
“There wasn’t anyone else who spoke Spanish and I had no support in school”, he explains.
Moreover, “my parents worked full time and I had to go to and from school alone”, he recalls. It was on this journey back from school that the other kids “would follow me and call me ‘paki’ or ‘Indian’ and if they ever caught me they’d physically attack me”.
In secondary school things started to improve; the council gave them a house, Yadin could now speak English and he started to hang out with the black community, given that he “didn’t fit in with the white community”.
In 1981 his father received Indefinite Remain (the right to remain in the UK) which was extended to the rest of his family. That same year his little sister was born.
But Yadin explains that his parents had an “explosive” relationship, so five years later they divorced. “My sister left with my mother and I didn’t know who to choose, so I left on my own”, he says. He was 16 years old and although at first he lived with some friends, he ended up on the streets until he found a job and started to rent a flat.
He met his first wife in 1986 and they married one year later. They had a son and a daughter, but their relationship ended after 7 years. As a result of other relationships he went on to have two more children.
Yadin tells us that he has a good relationship with all of his children and their mothers. “When there’s a problem, their mums call me to solve the situation; I’m the mediator to keep the peace”, he explains.
However, since he was a teen he’s had a handful of altercations with the police. “I was arrested for driving without a license, I was arrested another time for careless driving and again for fighting in a club”, he recalls. In all cases I served hours of community service and paid small fines.
In 2005, into his second marriage and with four children, his life started to fall apart. “I lost my job, debts started to mount up and I didn’t have any money”, he states.
So, out of “desperation” and “stupidity”, he accepted a job that a friend offered him. “At first I turned it down, but in the end I took the risk and accepted it”.
He tells us how he was sent a briefcase with two kilos of cocaine in it and a chemical filled container. They were put in the boot of his car and and he was told to take them to Scotland. “I didn’t look at what it was, but I had an idea”, he admits.
On the day of his journey he went to visit his mother, where his sister also happened to be. “She had never been to Scotland, so they insisted that she came with me”. Yadin reiterates that his sister knew absolutely nothing; “I made up a story about my journey to Scotland, and as I’d never been involved in anything like this before, she didn’t suspect anything”.
However, the same person who had offered him the job “was the very person who reported me to the police”. When he arrived in Scotland they were already waiting for him.
Both he and his sister were arrested, and when Yadin was interviewed by the police he explained what had happened and cleared his sister of all blame.
Scared of the possible repercussions on his family, he never revealed the name of the person that gave him the job. He accepted the charges and his sister was free to go.
He went to court and was put on bail whilst he waited for a trial. Although he was going to be sentenced to 7 years, he accepted culpability and his sentence was reduced to 5 years. In addition, he went through psychological and social tests and his stability with his family was analysed. Due to the favourable nature of the report his sentence was reduced. “In 2006 I was sentenced. I was given three years to serve in prison which would be reduced to 18 months based on my behaviour”, he explains.
He was imprisoned for 23 hours a day with one hour of free time for four months in Barlinnie prison in Glasgow. After this time he started to work in the kitchen, he enrolled on courses and he went to the gym.
“It was awful because I was far away from my family and things weren’t good with my wife”, he recalls.
In November 2006 Yadin found out that there was a space in an open prison: three weeks in prison and one week at home. He sent his application, was accepted and he spent the rest of his sentence there.
He completed 18 months there, and due to good behaviour, was then free to go.
A Bitter Ending
Divorced from his second wife, the opportunity to work as a supervisor for a cleaning company in Fosters & Partners in Battersea came up.
“In 2008 I met who I knew would be my last wife. She was an incredible woman and helped me so much with all my kids”, he tells us.
Yadin emotionally shares with us that “unfortunately, they found a malignant tumour. Although they operated on it, it had spread”. They were together until she died, 4 years ago.
Londono talks about the excellent relationship she had with all of his children. However, when she died, his life crumbled around him. He lost his job and decided to do something less demanding.
One year later, the Battersea Company got in contact with him again, asking him to come back to work with them.
It was when the company asked him to update his documents that his problems began again. “I had my visa in an old passport. I have a new one too but it doesn’t have the Indefinite Remain to Leave (IRL) stamp in it”, he explains.
He sent an application to receive a Biometric Card, which was cheaper but the same thing as the stamp.
“On 8th March 2016 I received a letter from the Home Office, who I had been waiting for my card from, but the notice was instead about deporting me for my criminal background”, he says.
Not understand what was happening, he started his legal battle against the Home Office. In his first appeal, “I based my case on the human rights with regards to my family but the Home Office rejected it, stating that if I wanted to have contact with them I would have to use Skype”, he states indignantly.
Since receiving that first letter, time has passed by and he still remains unemployed, without any savings, he’s lost his apartment and he lives in his father’s house, who is now a pensioner.
His life continues but it is in fear of being deported. Yadin explains that his children have emotional problems due to the ups and downs in his private life. “I’m the one who talks to them, who listens to them and helps them to get through this”, he says.
They all study or work and Londono is terrified that he may miss out on the different stages in his children’s lives.
He is currently waiting for a second appeal, which has been postponed three times. During this time he has focused on gathering together references and letters from his relatives, friends and co-workers to support his case.
Although he understands that those at the Home Office are just doing their job, he believes that “you have to investigate each case separately and judge it according to the situation”.
“My whole family is British…it was my fault that I didn’t get myself dual citizenship” he notes, angrily. But Yadin never thought that he would find himself in such a situation, keeping in mind that his parents, and by extension he too, had been granted indefinite leave to remain.
“How can they punish me and my family when I’ve already paid for what I did?”, he asks, time and time again.
(Translated by Eleanor Gooch) – Photos: Pixabay