THE hostile environment in the UK has reared its ugly head again after an Argentine woman who is married to a Scot was locked up in the Dungavel immigration detention centre after being refused entry to the UK – despite the fact the couple were only passing through on route to Australia.
Cyntia Lencinas arrived in Glasgow on Friday with her husband Charly Garcia, who wanted to sort out personal business before they went to Oz.
However, the 33-year-old was denied entry and taken to Dungavel and threatened with deportation. She was told she would be removed to New York yesterday morning, but the order was put on hold after intervention by the couple’s lawyer Usman Aslam, the SNP’s Immigration Spokesperson, Stuart C McDonald and The National.
Garcia, 44, told The National: “On the way into the airport we were stopped going through customs. My wife doesn’t speak very good English, she got stopped and they went through all the bags and she was denied entry on the grounds of not being a genuine visitor.
“I haven’t lived in the UK since 1994 – I’ve lived in Barcelona, South America and Australia – and only been back three times between 1994 and 2019.
“The idea was to come back and spend at most a month to sell some assets I’ve got here and then go to Australia.
“I spoke to one of the Border Force officers and he said it should be fine and she should be home in a day – that was on Friday – our flight had come from Uruguay via Brazil and New York to Glasgow.”
Garcia said he was told on Saturday that his wife would be deported because the Border Force agent had “made a mess of things”, but he was given five days to get a flight from Glasgow to wherever they wanted to go.
“I suggested flying from Glasgow to Dubai and Dubai to Sydney, or if not a flight from Glasgow to Dubai and Dubai to Bangkok – the officer said that would be fine,” he said.
“Yesterday at Dungavel, Cyntia got a letter saying she was being removed to Sao Paolo – no reason to be there or in the States, we were only transiting in these countries. She could be forcibly removed.
“We’ve been together since 2013 … and we got married this year. We’ve been together for seven years in February.
“I’m proud to be Scottish but whether I live here again is a different story. It seems ridiculous – Dungavel is overloaded with people who have similar stories but it doesn’t seem fair at all.”
Aslam, a member of the immigration team at Glasgow legal practise McGlashan McKay, said there was no reason for Lencinas to have a UK visa.
He said: “Argentina is part of the visa waiver countries which means she does not need to apply for a visitor visa beforehand, rather just show the immigration officer on arrival that she only intends to visit the UK, in this case Scotland to see her in-laws.
“They advised the Home Office on arrival that they had onward visas to Australia, that they hadn’t lived in Scotland other than a quick family visit in 2013 and only wanted to wind up some affairs and see family before they go.
“Charly even offered to buy their flights to Australia yesterday, however the Home Office set removal directions for a flight at 1pm.
“We are somewhat perplexed at this case as here is someone who has no intention of living in the UK, and moreover provided evidence that they have a visa for Australia.
“So now the Home Office are detaining people who do not even wish to remain here?
“Their actions are irrational, especially given the serious issues that McGlashan MacKay have been raising in respect of unnecessary detentions.”
McDonald added: “This is a totally nonsensical decision. It’s inexplicable, ludicrous and a completely outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The Home Office has been approached for comment.