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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Pensioner in deportation threat
Marguerite Grimmond
Marguerite Grimmond came to Scotland when she was two
An 80-year-old woman who moved to Scotland from America in 1929 has been told she could be deported as an illegal immigrant.

Marguerite Grimmond was born in Detroit but moved to Arbroath with her Scottish mother when she was two.

At the beginning of May she left Scotland for the first time for a holiday in Australia.

But when she returned, officials said her American passport was not valid and that she could not stay in the country.

The immigration officers said Mrs Grimmond, who had never applied for British citizenship, should have had her passport stamped by the Home Office before she set off on her holiday.

I don't know anyone in America. I would just be fair lost, to put it mildly
Marguerite Grimmond

They told her she would only be able to stay in Scotland for a further four weeks, after which time she was legally required to return to America.

Mrs Grimmond and husband Dave, from Kirriemuir, Angus, contacted their solicitors, and have now sent off a cheque for 750 along with an application to become a naturalised British citizen.

But with only five days to go before the deadline to leave the country, Mrs Grimmond was still waiting to hear whether her application had been successful.

She said: "I've been an illegal immigrant, would you believe, but I've paid taxes and done all the things I ought to do.

"My mother was Scottish, I married a Scottish policeman, my children were all born in Scotland so I assumed I was a Scot too. I wasn't aware that I wasn't a British citizen.

"I have five days left until I could be tossed out of the country. I'm not terribly pleased about that.

"I don't know anyone in America. I would just be fair lost, to put it mildly, but I really don't think there's any more I can do. I don't think it will happen but I'm just leaving it in the lap of the gods."

'Commendable efficiency'

When Mrs Grimmond decided to take her first ever foreign holiday, she went to the American consulate and paid 70 for her passport.

She claimed that no-one mentioned that she would need to get the passport stamped by the Home Office, and was able to travel freely from Heathrow Airport to Sydney on 1 May.

She added: "I arrived back at Heathrow at the end of the holiday to be told by an official that I couldn't stay in the country because I didn't have the Home Office stamp.

"Another more senior official then came along and said he would allow me to stay for a month."

Her husband added: "This fiasco shows a commendable efficiency in detecting illegal immigrants - even an 80-year-old lady."

A spokesman for the Home Office said he could not comment on individual cases, adding: "All applications made to the Border and Immigration Agency are considered on a case-by-case basis."

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