CLAPHAM, England — The boy was 13 when a dawn immigration raid abruptly ended his father’s four-year quest for political asylum in Britain. By nightfall of that day in 2005, father and son were hundreds of miles from home, locked in the privately run Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Center here, scheduled for deportation to their native Angola in the morning.
Instead, shortly after midnight, the despondent father, Manuel Bravo, 35, walked to a stairwell with a bed sheet and hanged himself. The note he left said why: so that his orphaned boy could stay in Britain.
Indeed, the law did not allow immigration authorities to deport an orphan who had no one waiting for him. A British family the Bravos knew through church took the boy, Antonio, home to Armley, the working-class suburb of Leeds where they had settled in 2001.
Antonio, now 19, is an apprentice electrician who aspires to be an engineer. Not far from his father’s hilltop grave, he shares a century-old house with five British roommates and regularly visits the family who raised him. “I want to make my dad proud and not feel like he gave his life away for no reason,” he said.
But next month, Antonio faces the threat of deportation all over again. Under changing laws, instead of qualifying for citizenship this year, as he expected, he is not eligible to apply. His temporary residence permit, granted on humanitarian grounds, is expiring with no clear path to renewal.