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I want to make my dad proud and not feel like he gave his life away for no reason
August 27, 2011 2:06 PM   Subscribe

In 2005, Manuel Bravo, 35, walked to a stairwell of the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Center carrying a bedsheet. He hung himself. The note he left indicated that he had done it so that his son, Antonio Bravo, 13, could remain in the United Kingdom to be educated. The pair were to be deported back to war-torn Angola the next day, where they alleged that they had been victims of abuse by the ruling party. Now, Antonio is 19, training to be an electrician, speaking in Yorkshire dialect, no longer speaks his native Porteguese, and will be deported back to Angola if his humanitarian visa is not extended. "My family, they're English," he said, referring to the Beaumonts (his adoptive family). "Britain, that's my culture."

Antonio's mother died in childbirth, and his stepmother has since remarried. His only sibling, a younger brother, is living with relatives in the UK (on a Portuguese passport under EU privileges). Antonio's humanitarian visa expires on September 18th.

An investigation into the events leading to Manuel Bravo's suicide has concluded (in the NYT article):

Contractors now run 7 of Britain's 11 immigration detention centers, where capacity has grown 75 percent since 2001. Mr. Bravo's one day in custody is documented in rare detail in inquest records. What still haunts Antonio is the moment when G4S transport guards discovered a brand-new clothesline in his father's bag. They took the rope from Mr. Bravo, who was under treatment for depression, but never alerted Yarl's Wood. G4S declined to comment for this article on its operations, either in general or with regard to the Bravo case.

A nurse at Yarl's Wood, employed by another subcontractor, confiscated Mr. Bravo's antidepressants and did not ask if he was suicidal - for fear, she testified, of putting the idea in his head. Official inquiries concluded that these lapses made no difference.

Father and son were escorted through eight locked doors to their room, where Antonio waited while Mr. Bravo made last-ditch phone calls.

One was to the vicar, who had been unable to reach government officials. "He was really struggling," Mr. Kaye said. "He was terrified of going back."

When Mr. Bravo returned to their room, Antonio said, he brought bad news: their deportation was set for 10:30 a.m. "He said, 'Whatever happens, be brave and strong and I'm proud of you.' "
posted by guster4lovers (32 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not to trivialize but I could not not think of poppi
posted by victors at 2:20 PM on August 27, 2011


Capital is free to move between countries at whim, but labor is restricted and trapped.

So if you make your income from capital, the world is yours for the taking, but if you make your income from labor, shut up and take whatever scraps you're given. Globalization is for the big boys, not the workers.

Same old story. :-(
posted by -harlequin- at 3:49 PM on August 27, 2011 [43 favorites]


geeyore:
it's legal to claim asylum after arriving illegally. If it weren't many people would have been exterminated before being granted refugee status [and later, citizenship]. Thats what the dad did; the child accompanied him. Humanitarian principles would guide us to grant the boy leave to remain, no?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:52 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


(sorry that my comment sounds insensitive, I'm reacting to this as yet another example of the endless suffering from immigration injustice, rather than as it's own sad and outrageous case)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:53 PM on August 27, 2011


-harlequin- that's the same bitterness I have about it. I just don't understand how easy it is for money and goods to travel between nations -- the justification often being that it's necessary for efficient market behavior. We even have several world bodies devoted to making sure trade isn't unduly restricted! Labor is different apparently and I've never understood why immigration rules (and work rights of non-permanent residents) are almost universally very restrictive.

In somewhat related news, I found the other day that the US' asinine pre-flight registration for visa-waivered visitors (the ESTA program - the electronic visa we don't call a visa!) applies to people just transiting through a US international airport who will never leave the airport! It's ostensibly about security but it's not like other countries don't screen passengers and I fail to see what the program accomplishes. It's just hostile to visitors and I know three people who won't visit or even fly through the US due to these policies.
posted by R343L at 4:13 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


@R343L Four people
posted by Hogshead at 4:19 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


And sweet idiocy! I just read most of the FAQ and we charge people $14 (if approved, $4 only if you are denied) for this electronic non-visa which was authorized in legislation called the "Travel Promotion Act of 2009". Sigh.
posted by R343L at 4:25 PM on August 27, 2011


What an incredibly harrowing tale. It says that when he got the humanitarian 5 year visa it "could" lead to citizenship. Now it seems like that's no longer an option. I wonder why.
posted by bleep at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2011


dash_slot- : Humanitarian principles would guide us to grant the boy leave to remain, no?

If by "humanitarian", you mean "inspiring a wave of illegal killing themselves so their kids can stay".

The greater good doesn't always involve a happy short-term outcome.
posted by pla at 5:47 PM on August 27, 2011


Apparently, being on a humanitarian visa is no longer a citizenship track because of some of the recent immigration law reform the Conservatives pushed through recently. A few years earlier and he would be a British citizen now.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:26 PM on August 27, 2011


Pictures are hung. People get hanged.
posted by Renoroc at 7:06 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


@renoroc, REALLY?! All the horrible things about this case and you pick up on two missing letters in my retelling of it?

*sigh* Either way, a guy died, and that seems more important to me than remembering the correct verb form, but whatever.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:38 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pictures are hung. People get hanged.

Speak for yourself.
posted by axiom at 8:29 PM on August 27, 2011


"Travel Promotion Act of 2009"

If you think taht's steep you should look at the fee schedule for Information Retrieval!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:24 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If by "humanitarian", you mean "inspiring a wave of illegal killing themselves so their kids can stay".

I don't think many people would frivolously commit suicide to game the legal system. We're talking kill yourself here, not some Internet petition - we could at least treat this kind of desperation with some respect.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:50 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dr Dracator : I don't think many people would frivolously commit suicide to game the legal system.

"Game the legal system?"

Not talkin' about trying to get out of a speeding ticket here. Not even "just" trying to get away with a serious crime like murder or rape (though personally I'd rather die than rot in prison for 20+).

But to provide their kids with a guarantee of citizenship and a better life? Who wouldn't take that approach as a last-ditch effort? I don't even want kids, and I can see the obvious appeal of that.


we could at least treat this kind of desperation with some respect.

Right, respect. Let's legitimize it by doing exactly what the father wanted. Great idea!

"Respect" doesn't mean "when a petulant child hurts himself in a tantrum over not getting a cookie, you give him the cookie".
posted by pla at 4:52 AM on August 28, 2011


"Respect" doesn't mean "when a petulant child hurts himself in a tantrum over not getting a cookie, you give him the cookie".

Wow.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:56 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, pla. "Trivializing" is not a strong enough word for what you just did.
posted by prefpara at 8:06 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It says in the article that the father suffered from depression.
I am pretty sure that the reason he killed himself cannot be boiled down to a single factor, such as "want to give kid better future" but was probably due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which was his illness.
posted by sour cream at 9:57 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Respect" doesn't mean "when a petulant child hurts himself in a tantrum over not getting a cookie, you give him the cookie".

He fled a country where his parents had been murdered, his sisters raped and murdered, and his wife and another child had to flee to Namibia after being detained by the Angolan government. That's totally the same as a kid throwing a tantrum because he can't have a cookie.
posted by rtha at 10:16 AM on August 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Look, whether or not you all disapprove of the fact that I don't give a rat's ass about the fact that this guy offed himself, you've kinda missed the point.

If you reward what he did, other people WILL do it. Simple as that.

Yes, he had circumstances beyond merely his status as an illegal, circumstances that made death look better than going home. And no one else comes from a war-torn country where they watched their family members die?

In trivializing comes objectivity.

/ And for the record, I favor completely erasing national boundaries as nothing more than fictional lines we draw on the map for the purpose of more efficiently pissing on one another. That doesn't mean I support amnesty for illegals, but I would prefer we correct the underlying problems rather than squabble over where someone's mother popped.
posted by pla at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2011


It seems that when he decided to do it, humanitarian visas were a path to citizenship. So any of the detainees with children could have done the same thing, it seeming like such a good idea apparently. And yet they didn't. Unless there's a huge gaping hole in this story where suddenly a mass wave of detainee suicides happened and were covered up. So I don't see how having compassion for this one kid would suddenly spark a wave of suicides. It's not that easy to get otherwise-healthy people to kill themselves. If there's that many at-risk detainees just sitting at the brink then that's a big problem.
posted by bleep at 10:30 AM on August 28, 2011


Meant to say, it's a big problem, a problem big enough to perhaps force the UK to take a good hard look at themselves and their immigration policies. (Not that a wave of suicides would be a good thing, even if it then set off a massive overhaul of the system.)
posted by bleep at 10:31 AM on August 28, 2011


Yes, he had circumstances beyond merely his status as an illegal,

He wasn't "an illegal." He was seeking asylum, which is not illegal. He arrived in the UK in 2001, claimed status as an asylum-seeker, and was living freely under that status until he and his son were sent to a detention center when their application was denied.

If you can't even get the basic facts right, there's no reason why anyone should take your "this is the right way to do it" policy claims seriously. These are questions that governments struggle with, and where there is no quick-and-easy right answer that covers every contingency. Except on your planet, I guess, where the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children, and fuck those suicidal tantrum-throwers.
posted by rtha at 11:17 AM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


pla: "If you reward what he did, other people WILL do it. Simple as that."

Even poor, desperate people have enough value for their lives that they probably won't commit suicide unless they truly believe their children are in danger. That leads me to believe that the UK department of immigration quite possibly made a grave error. How about some outpouring of moral rage in their direction?
posted by vanar sena at 12:24 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


rtha : He wasn't "an illegal." He was seeking asylum, which is not illegal.

Splitting hairs - "The pair were to be deported back to war-torn Angola the next day". However you want to classify him, his stay in the UK had come to an end, and he took action to prevent that for his kid.


If you can't even get the basic facts right, there's no reason why anyone should take your "this is the right way to do it" policy claims seriously.

Damn that well! Here, let's add some cyanide to it...


These are questions that governments struggle with, and where there is no quick-and-easy right answer that covers every contingency. Except on your planet, I guess, where the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children, and fuck those suicidal tantrum-throwers.

Damn straight. I see two glaringly obvious solutions to the problem of immigration, which only our insistence on seeing shades of grey where none exist, has complicated.

1) Zero tolerance, kill them on sight.
2) Perfectly porous borders (or better, no borders).

The rest amounts to our leaders playing games by pitting various factions against each other to make sure we don't vote based on any issues that might actually matter.


vanar sena : Even poor, desperate people have enough value for their lives that they probably won't commit suicide unless they truly believe their children are in danger.

Agreed! And sending the kid back "to war-torn Angola" would put him in danger, no?


Make no mistake, I consider the father's actions entirely rational, and don't in any way fault him for it. I also see no benefit (beyond the extremely short-sighted "aww, won't someone think of the kid?") to rewarding him for it.
posted by pla at 1:07 PM on August 28, 2011


pla: "1) Zero tolerance, kill them on sight.
2) Perfectly porous borders (or better, no borders).


I support your slash-and-burn politics! In the mean time, perhaps a more measured review of humanitarian immigration policies are in order. You know, just as a stop-gap measure.

to rewarding him for it."

Yeah he's going to be so fucking smug.
posted by vanar sena at 1:57 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, pla, but have you BEEN to Angola? Calling it war-torn is REALLY generous. I saw a report from 2001, around the time he would have applied for humanitarian refugee status, where people in Angola said that they couldn't see themselves ever voting because they didn't trust the "government" enough to even show up at a polling place, for fear of violence. They didn't think that democracy would ever work in their country. It had a full-on civil war for decades.

The Angolans I met in South Africa were fucking devastated and traumatised. And that was when the war was "over." Plus, living where you could step on a land-mine at any second any place makes even a "peaceful" country a shitty place to live.

Apart from that, saying that they were to be deported is a statement of fact. It's much more euphemistic (and less accurate) to describe them as leaving because their "stay came to an end," as opposed to leaving by force because the government refused to allow them to remain and insisted on sending them back into a war-zone.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:48 PM on August 28, 2011


Splitting hairs -

It isn't. Your characterization of the father as an "illegal" is incorrect and inflammatory. He did not break any laws.
posted by rtha at 3:55 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


pla: so it's OK for you to speak with contempt of suffering beyond your experience or imaginative capacity because you're on the side of the angels with your impossible porous border preference. You've staked out your unattainable utopia and you're not responsible for the trauma and misery that people like Antonio are subjected to because of policies you vocally defend. After all, if you were king, they'd be in a completely different situation. Meanwhile, in the real world, fuck them and fuck society, you're just here to point out useless and incorrect shit in the most appallingly heartless possible way. Which adds value to this conversation because your shocking lack of basic decency - what, means that you're particularly clear-eyed?

These are real people. And this is my attempt to shame you into hiding your ugly lack of regard for the real people that surround you on this earth when engaging in conversation.
posted by prefpara at 4:17 PM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


It wouldn`t surprise if refugees given the precarity of their conditions could possible resort to such draconian measures in the goal of assuring their loved ones debts be paid off, like martyrs. Then again I do not know the details of this.
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:07 PM on August 28, 2011


...exact story that is.
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:08 PM on August 28, 2011


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