Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Asylum man separated from family

Farid and Samia Boumerdassi
Farid and Samia Boumerdassi were woken in dawn raids at their home

An asylum seeker awaiting deportation claims he has been separated from his family, who are thought to have been flown back to Algeria.

Farid Boumerdassi, his wife Samia and their three children were taken from their Wrexham home on Monday and taken to an immigration removal centre.

Mr Boumerdassi said he had been told he would follow his family within days.

The family had been hoping for a last-ditch reprieve from the Home Office, which said it could not comment.

A spokesperson said the department did not "give running commentaries" on removal cases.

Mr Boumerdassi said immigration officials told him he would be removed in several days time, once his travel documents had been organised.

The couple and their three children - aged six, 10 and 11 - were woken at their home in a pre-dawn raid by Border Agency officials early on Monday morning.

People in Wrexham have been wonderful and we're going to miss them a lot
Farid Boumerdassi

Prayers were said for the family at a candlelit vigil in Wrexham on Wednesday, where they have lived on the Caia Park estate for several years.

Speaking from the Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre near London's Gatwick Airport on Wednesday, Mr Boumerdassi said he was hoping his solicitor would be able to persuade officials to let them stay.

He said the family were "devastated" by the decision to deport them.

"It's very hard on the children," he added.

"They were all doing well at their schools in Wrexham. We've tried explaining the situation to them, but they're very upset and confused."

He said he and his wife had both studied English at Yale College in Wrexham.

He had also completed a retail course and his wife was hoping to train as a teacher.

A service for the family at the Salvation Army centre in Wrexham
Prayers were said and candles were lit at a special service

They had tried to make a contribution by becoming involved in local community groups, he said.

He added: "People in Wrexham have been wonderful and we're going to miss them a lot.

"We're just hoping that someone in authority will do something to help us stay."

One friend who is campaigning for them to stay said many people had been "in tears" over the family's treatment.

Supporters lit candles for them at a Christmas carol service in the town's Salvation Army centre on Wednesday.

'Model citizens'

Major Sarah Evans said the Boumerdassi family had become well known and loved in the town, and had immersed themselves in community life, including voluntary work for the Salvation Army.

"They are model citizens, and they are loved by everyone who has come to know them in the town - and that is a lot of people," she said.

"It is awful for it to come at this time of year, and we are very afraid for their safety when they return [to Algeria]."

The Home Office confirmed the family were in the process of being removed, but would not comment on individual cases.

A spokesperson added: "We only seek to remove families who are in the UK unlawfully after all appeal rights have been used and the courts agree that they have no further right to remain in the UK."

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