A child of the Windrush generation has told of his heartbreak at missing his daughter’s wedding due to an official failure to recognise him as British.
Joseph Bravo left Jamaica for London in the early 1960s and moved to Leeds before the end of the decade, playing in and coaching amateur football teams and working as an electrician, the son of parents who came to the UK to help rebuild a shattered country following the Second World War.
But when the 62 year-old applied for a passport to attend his daughter Charmaine’s wedding in Australia, the authorities told him he would first have to apply for British citizenship at a cost of hundreds of pounds.
On April 4, the Chapel Allerton-resident ended up watching Charmaine approach the altar on FaceTime, describing it as “fantastic”, but admitting not being there “cut me up”.
Speaking in a Leeds accent, he told The Yorkshire Post: “She didn’t want to have the wedding, she was going to cancel the wedding.
“I said no, you can’t do that everybody has already paid and one thing and the other. But she was heartbroken also."
Mr Bravo is one of many Commonwealth citizens who have lived in Britain since they were schoolchildren and were supposed to have been given the right to remain in 1971 are now being denied access to healthcare, held in immigration detention centres, and threatened with deportation.
For him it “just doesn’t make sense” as he came to the country in “1963 or 1964” as a seven or eight year-old.
When he was 17 his father got him a passport to prove his age to football coaches he played for, “because I was a big lad” and people thought he was older.
In 1989, he was coaching a football team once known as Prince Philip’s in Leeds and obtained a one-year passport to travel to Amsterdam for a game.
But in 2010 and then last year, the Passport Office said they had no records of his residence. He said: “I can’t see that I can spend 54 years in the country and they tell me that they don’t know that I’m here,” he said.
Before the current anger over the treatment of the Windrush generation, he had "nowhere to go”.
“What if my daughter’s poorly in Australia and I want to go see her for the last time? I can’t.
“What if she’s has a child and I wanna go and see my grandchild? I can’t.
“And I haven’t done nothing wrong, I’m not an illegal immigrant, I haven’t stolen anything from anybody.”