Anugwom Izuchukwu Goodluck, 30 – a recent University of Sussex alumnus, has been refused ‘leave to remain’ status within the UK by the Home Office.
By Joshua McLaughlin
Graduating from the University of Sussex with a Masters in International Relations in 2019, Mr. Goodluck subsequently worked as a frontline carer for vulnerable care home residents in Brighton & Hove throughout the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With his student visa set to expire in January 2020, his application for ‘leave to remain’ under human rights grounds to extend his residency was rejected by the UK government, further being denied the opportunity for appeal.
“It’s been a very difficult time for me,” Mr. Goodluck describes to The Badger.
“The last four months have been daunting and depressing. My immediate family are all here in the UK. My brother’s wife has just given birth too. I have no immediate family members in Nigeria. I have no accommodation or means of survival.”
First arriving in the UK in 2018 to pursue postgraduate studies at Sussex from Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck was an engaged member of the student population. He volunteered his time to the University of Sussex Students’ Union’s Buddy Scheme and Language Café; acclimatising students to Sussex life and enhancing the sense of community and inclusivity on campus.
During his studies, Mr. Goodluck began training to become a carer, and following his graduation, offered his skills to agencies across the city. He also voluntarily committed his time to teaching in local schools.
Mr. Goodluck has been forced to leave Brighton and live with his mother in London, as he can no longer afford to rent or live in the city, due to his halted pay from being flagged as an ‘illegal’ worker by the UK Home Office.
“I haven’t worked since March, no penny on me,’ Mr. Goodluck states.
“I worked in a care home in Hove. I did lots for community services in Brighton. I believe I have so much to offer. I built an amazing, caring relationship with my residents in the care home to the point where they always look out to see me. They are always happy having me around, but all this got cut short and I never had the chance of a goodbye.”
Mr. Goodluck has been prompted to voluntarily leave the country before the end of his visa extension on 31 July. This has since been lengthened by a month following an additional extension due to travel inhibitions evoked by the escalating COVID-19 global pandemic.
Despite his only remaining family being UK citizens and currently situated within the country, Mr. Goodluck is being ordered to return to Nigeria – a place where he has zero remaining familial connections, following the passing of his grandmother.
The official position of the government remains firm, with a Home Office representative explaining to The Argus that: “We are incredibly grateful for all the work that carers have done during the coronavirus, which is why we have made them exempt from the immigration health surcharge […] Those who are in the UK must follow the immigration rules – and that includes not continuing to work in the UK after applications for visas have been refused.”
In light of the government’s stance, responses of support and increased engagement in the discussion, particularly online, have begun to envelop Mr. Goodluck’s case. This has been prompted by social media campaigns from platforms such as ‘Official Brighton BLM’ and ‘We Stand with Goodluck’ on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
A Change.org petition entitled ‘End the deportation of Anugwom Izuchukwu Goodluck,’ detailing: “Not only should migrants be treated with respect always – a CARE WORKER should be treated with respect after what they have been through these last few months. This person deserves a medal, not a deportation,” has also amassed over 12,000 signatures as of releasing this article.
Additionally, a ‘GoFundMe’ fundraiser has been set-up to help Mr. Goodluck with his legal fees. With a target of £5000, it has managed to reach £900 in two days.
Solidarity and action from the University of Sussex Students’ Union was also announced last Friday. It comes in the form of a statement of support, containing a plethora of multimedia resources and links to help raise awareness for Mr. Goodluck’s struggle with the Home Office.
The Students’ Union declare: “We vehemently oppose the government and Home Office’s hostile environment strategy that targets and discriminates against international students. We think that students such as Anugwom should be permitted to stay in the country they have made their home.
“This is a clear example of how the hostile environment is racist and discriminatory in exploiting racial and ethnic minority students, workers, and families, further structurally marginalising migrants and immigrants.
“We applaud Anugwom’s selflessness during this pandemic and implore the Home Office and our local MPs to guarantee his right to remain in this country and to commend his efforts and resolve. We ask for the authorities to act with compassion and respect.”
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas has commented to The Argus that: “It’s hard to think of a more heartless response from the Home Office than to threaten to deport someone who has put themselves on the frontline to protect others.”
Lucas’ statement derives from the caption Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel, posted to Twitter on 21 July, reading: “We are making progress to right the wrongs experienced by #Windrush generation. We are ensuring @ukhomeoffice is open to scrutiny & engages with all parts of the community it serves. We will take a compassionate approach based on people, not cases.”
Lucas suggests that Patel should start with cases like Mr. Goodluck’s, expanding: “Deporting a care worker who is one of those we have been applauding for the past four months, and whose closest family live in the UK, shows the Home Secretary may talk the talk on immigration reform, but the hostile environment for immigrants is still deep-rooted in the Home Office.”
Brighton Black Lives Matter have urged supporters to send emails to their local MPs demanding action. They have encouraged directly contacting Priti Patel in attempts to reverse Mr. Goodluck’s leave to remain judgement; sharing an email template for individuals to fill out and send to their local Members of Parliament.
The Department of International Relations within the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex – where Mr. Goodluck was located while studying at Sussex, tweeted the statement: “Urgent! Please sign the petition and write to your MP to stop the deportation of former @IRSussex MA student and care worker Anugwom Izuchukwu Goodluck!”
When The Badger asked for his response to this public support, Mr. Goodluck said: “The support was tremendous. I never ever expected such a massive support. This goes to show that society still recognises good deeds.
“I plead to Priti Patel to be compassionate in my case and don’t separate me from my family. I have dedicated my service to my community in Brighton in a time when they needed me, and am very much ready to continue to contribute to the community.”
When approached for a statement by The Badger regarding Mr. Goodluck’s position, the University of Sussex have commented: “We believe that international students and graduates greatly enrich the UK, both economically and culturally. We were proud to be part of a decade-long campaign by universities to successfully put forward a case to the government for two-year work visas for all international graduates.
“While we cannot comment on individual cases, our immigration team provides a detailed and confidential advisory service for students with Tier 4 visas and short-term study visas, including directing enquirers towards legal assistance, if required.”
For more information and resources concerning the ongoing efforts to reverse the deportation of Anugwom Izuchukwu Goodluck on 31 July, see below:
We Stand with Goodluck (@StandwGoodluck): https://twitter.com/StandwGoodluck
GoFundMe page (for Mr. Goodluck’s legal fees): https://www.gofundme.com/f/stop-goodluck-from-being-deported?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link-tip
Full University of Sussex Students’ Union statement: https://www.sussexstudent.com/news/article/ussu/Statement-from-your-Officers-regarding-the-Sussex-alumnus-facing-deportation/
Find your MPs contact details: https://www.writetothem.com
Follow/contribute to the hashtag #IStandWithGoodluck.