South West Wales

Petition handed over in Ahmer Rana deportation campaign

A petition has been presented at Whitehall in support of a teenager from Pakistan now living in Carmarthenshire in a final bid to avoid deportation.

Ahmer Rana is due to be sent back to Pakistan after he turns 18 on Christmas Day.

He was smuggled into the UK aged 14 after family fears he may be killed in a feud involving enemies of his father.

The UK Border Agency has said there is no reason to offer him protection and he would definitely be deported.

Ahmer lives with his foster parents, John and Lesley Hillard, at Nantycaws, near Carmarthen.

Mrs Hillard said it would be "cruel" if the teenager were deported.

She said: "He's a good boy. He deserves to stay. He's a credit to the parents who reared him. He's a credit to us and he's a credit to his school.

"He wants to put something back into this country, for all the help they've given him. He deserves to stay and I want him to stay. They will be breaking a family's heart if they send him back."

His campaign has been backed by a petition, with support from dozens of school friends and staff at his school, Queen Elizabeth High in Carmarthen.

More than 3,500 people have signed the petition and a Facebook support group has more than 1,500 members.

But a UK Border Agency spokesman said both the agency and the courts had fully considered his case and had found he was "not in need of protection and must return to Pakistan".

"Mr Rana's claim was turned down by the UK Border Agency and then by an appeal court where a judge found that elements of his case were inconsistent and that he had failed to show that he faces persecution in Pakistan.

"We would rather individuals like Mr Rana leave the UK voluntarily when they have no basis to remain here, but if individuals defy the decisions of the courts we are left with no choice but to enforce their removal."

Ahmer, an only child from Lahore, left Pakistan when he was 14 after his parents feared the family's lives were in danger. He has had no contact with them since.

He said: "I really don't know how I can prove to [the border agency] that my life would be in danger.

"I am living in the UK now. How can I prove to them that if I go back to Pakistan they are going to kill me? I really don't know how.

"I haven't got contact with [my parents] since I came to this country.

"I don't really know if they are still there, but as they sent me away to save my life, they've probably gone somewhere else as well, to save theirs."

Image caption Ahmer Rana is studying for his A-levels

Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said: "In my view there is a clear moral case to support Ahmer's application for asylum and that's why I am making representations to the government.

"The support we've seen for this campaign has been staggering and it's right and proper I take this case as far as I can with the Home Office.

"I can't exhaust any legal avenues but I have been trying to push this matter as far as I can politically.

"My hope is that the minister will make a decision to offer some discretion in this case."

Ahmer's friend Thomas Boucher said they had become close friends since Ahmer arrived at the school.

"He is such a genuine person and to think he is going to be taken away from the school is devastating," he said.

"We've done everything we can to help him and we've had a brilliant response- about one fifth of Carmarthen has signed the petition, even in these conditions."

Ian Humphreys, head of the school sixth form, said Ahmer was "remarkable" and he hoped he would be allowed to stay.

He said: "You can see from the degree of support he gets from his fellow pupils and the staff what a young man of real calibre he is.

"If you add in the human element. You realise that morally we have a responsibility to Ahmer."

You can hear more on this story on BBC Asian Network Reports at 1230 and 1800 GMT or listen back via the BBC iPlayer.

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