Hoteliers face threat of deportation

CAUGHT in a web of red tape, an Ipswich hotelier today made a passionate plea for her husband not to be deported back to America Although Britain and America have made a very public display of togetherness in Iraq, tough immmigration laws are threatening to pull apart the relationship of an Anglo-American couple who have made Suffolk home.

CAUGHT in a web of red tape, an Ipswich hotelier today made a passionate plea for her husband not to be deported back to America

Although Britain and America have made a very public display of togetherness in Iraq, tough immmigration laws are threatening to pull apart the relationship of an Anglo-American couple who have made Suffolk home.

Sue Houtman and her husband Doug received a letter on Wednesday saying he has been refused a visa and would have to go back to the United States.

He is blaming a change in UK law that was implemented to stop people abusing immigration rules by obtaining residency by marrying British wives.


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But their's is a genuine love affair, they claim.

Mrs Houtman, 41, moved to America 15 years ago and she later met Mr Houtman.

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They became friends and got married in Michigan on April 2, 2002 but decided to move to England on October 14, 2002.

Mrs Houtman's mother had gained a 20-year lease on the Portman Hotel in Crescent Road, Ipswich and the pair moved to England to run the hotel.

Mr Houtman, 46, was told by US officials that he needed to get a six-month tourist visa and then, when in Britain, could apply for permanent residency.

He did this but when he applied for the next visa he was told he would have to go back to America.

A change in immigration law in April 2003 aimed at stopping abuse of rules that allowed people to stay in Britain after marrying British wives.

Mr Houtman's visa expired on April 14 and he fears he could be thrown out of the country at any time.

He was sent a letter by the Home Office which read: "You must now leave the United Kingdom, if you do not leave voluntarily you will be removed to the United States of America."

Mr Houtman said: "I called the US Embassy in London and they said there is nothing they can do.

"Everytime I hear the doorbell I think it is customs coming to take me away and my heart jumps.

"I was given the wrong information back home and there was a lack of communication between the two governments.

"I could understand it if I was a drug dealer or a child molester but I'm just a yank trying to make a new life.

"I am here to start a new beginning with the woman I love and I'm being told I can't."

Mrs Houtman said she would follow him to America but she would not be able to go to the United States instantly.

She said: "If we go, we have no where to live, we came here to start a life.

"It is heart-breaking not knowing what is going to happen. Me and Doug are made for each other, being separated will tear us both apart.

"He is my whole life, I don't want to be separated and he means the world to me."

Mr Houtman added: " When I got this letter my heart hit the floor, I wanted to cry and scream at the same time.

"We went to the citizen advice bureau and my wife just started crying and she would not stop. We have been walking around like zombies.

"They are calling me a refugee and I do not like that, they are calling me a criminal. It is a big slap in the face.

"My natural thought was to run but I can't, I have never run – I'm a fighter."

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