Friday, 22 November 2013

Supreme Court art: unpicking immigration law

My father's father is unknown. He got an 18-year-old factory girl from Toxteth up the duff then disappeared from history. He must have looked Semitic. Not Lloyd George, then.

The only visual representation of him I have - apart from my face - is the straight line of reproof in the relevant box on my father's birth certificate.

At least my father's nationality was neither questioned nor an obstacle to life. My dinner guest tonight is a German Jew whose family tale is inevitable.

Today's case involves refugees.

AA (Somalia) v Entry Clearance Officer (Addis Ababa) concerns a Somali girl born in 1994. Separated from her mother and siblings by the fighting in Mogadishu in 2002, is she entitled to enter the UK as the adopted child of her brother-in-law who has been granted asylum, even though she does not comply with certain Immigration Rules?

For all the general slagging off I give to some aspects of it, I don't live in a country that has failed at being a country and is famous for exporting female genital mutilation to other countries such as, well, mine, but that's another story.

Someone in court says: 'In immigration law there is more than one purpose or policy at play at any one time.' (I note down the comment but not who said it, relying on short-term memory. Hah!)

Is that why the law has so far failed to give an answer in this case? Language is secondary to intent. Not even the meaning of  'parent' is clear here, let alone 'adopt'.

And if you tell me to go back where I came from, I won't know where to go.

I can retrieve only one certainty from today: Lady Hale did not arrive in Court 2 with a hole in her cardigan and dodgy antecedents. That was moi. The most senior female lawyer in the land was wearing a glorious non-black ensemble - a flattering dress in deep, rich colours and an elegant knitted jacket with clever ribbing at the shoulders.

The hole is almost undetectable but needs mending, like holes in the law.

More pictures if you scroll down.























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