A teacher who flew into Manchester Airport only to be told the ‘computer system was down’ so his residency couldn’t be checked has described feeling ‘vulnerable’ every time he flies into the country.
Enrique Benitez, 28, a Spanish teacher and consultant based in Manchester city centre, said he was asked by a Border Force officer to show his Spanish ID when he arrived from Barcelona into Terminal One on Tuesday evening.
However, he claims he was then told the ‘computer system was down’ so neither his ID or his passport – which he also handed over – could prove he had residency status.
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Instead, he was asked to trawl his emails for a document he’d been sent by the Government confirming his position – despite it stating specifically that it ‘was for personal records only’ and could not be used as evidence he has ‘Settled Status’ in the UK.
Although Enrique said the officer in question treated him with respect, the incident left him feeling vulnerable about his life in the UK, despite having lived here for six years.
He said: “I feel like it’s such an important part of my stability in the country to be able to enter it and return home and not feel like I’m risking my life, my friends, my work and home every time I go abroad.
“I know this is an ongoing problem that a lot of people are having. We are in a vulnerable position every time we go abroad because there’s no way for us to physically prove that we have residential status in the UK.”
Enrique, who had flown to Barcelona for an interview with a UK-based Spanish firm, said it was lucky he still had the email that gained him entry, adding: “I could have deleted it because it says it’s only for my own records.
“At first I couldn’t find it, it took me ages. I had shown her my passport as well as my ID and that didn’t help.
“At no point did I feel threatened by the officer, which has happened before, but it felt like there was no way of proving I have a right to live here, like I’m literally at the hands of whichever border officer I get every time I enter the country, like I need to prove something every time I enter the country.”
When Enrique highlighted his ordeal on Twitter, he was met with a ‘small minority’ of people telling him to ‘go home’, while the majority were supportive.
He was also alerted in the responses to a campaign being run by ‘The Three Million’, an organisation giving a voice to EU residents in the UK, calling for formal ID cards for those with ‘Settled Status’.
The Manchester Evening News has contacted UK Border Force, which runs immigration at Manchester Airport, for comment.