Anxious wait for Doug

THROUGHOUT the next few days Doug Houtman will be anxiously waiting to discover if he will be deported from Britain.Today his hotelier mother-in-law pleaded with the Home Office not to send her son-in-law back to America.

THROUGHOUT the next few days Doug Houtman will be anxiously waiting to discover if he will be deported from Britain.

Today his hotelier mother-in-law pleaded with the Home Office not to send her son-in-law back to America.

Sylvia Bardell believes her family will be torn apart as her daughter would also be forced to leave England if her husband cannot get a visa.

Doug Houtman will find out shortly if he will lose a four-week battle to stay with his wife in Ipswich.


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He received a letter from the Home Office on Wednesday, July 23 saying he had been refused a visa and had to leave the country.

Since then, him and his wife Sue have contacted Ipswich MP Chris Mole, the US Embassy in London and written to prime minister Tony Blair and American president George W Bush.

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The couple got married in Michigan in April, 2002 before moving to England six months later. Sue Houtman had lived in America for 15 years but came to Ipswich with her husband to start a business together.

Mrs Bardell had gained a 20-year lease on the Portman Hotel in Crescent Road, Ipswich and offered the couple the chance to run it while she would be in charge of the Victoria Hotel in Civic Drive.

The couple accepted the offer and Mr Houtman, after following the advice of US customs officers, gained a six-month tourist visa.

However, UK immigration law was changed in April to try to stop people abusing the rules and getting married purely to stay in the country.

When Mr Houtman tried to get a new visa his application was refused and Mrs Bardell is unhappy at the way he has been treated. She is also upset as she could lose contact with her daughter who would follow her husband back to America.

Mrs Bardell said: "Doug is a nice guy and has not done anything wrong."

"I love my daughter so much and I do not want to lose her again. I saw her once in 15 years then she came back and it was superb, but now it might come to an end again. We go out together and are like two sisters or two friends. Please let my son-in-law stay."

The Home Office refuse to comment on individual cases but Mrs Houtman believes the ordeal has made her relationship with her husband stronger. However, she is not confident that he will be allowed to stay in England.

She said: "I put it at the back of my mind as I think we only have about a ten per cent chance.

"I love the guy so much and this has brought us closer together. We spend every moment together and I just want to be with him."

Mr Houtman said: "Neither of us are sleeping well but we are still hoping.

"I feel like an inmate on death row waiting to find out if my life is going to be spared."

n What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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