Suffolk man takes battle to Tony Blair
DETERMINED Doug Houtman has taken his battle to stay in England to Prime Minister Tony Blair.As previously reported in the Evening Star, the American faces deportation to the United States despite living with his English wife Sue in Ipswich.
DETERMINED Doug Houtman has taken his battle to stay in England to Prime Minister Tony Blair.
As previously reported in the Evening Star, the American faces deportation to the United States despite living with his English wife Sue in Ipswich.
Mr Houtman, 46, received a letter saying he has been refused a visa and would have to go back to the United States.
The couple, who got married in Michigan in April 2002, moved to England in October 2002 to run the Portman Hotel in Crescent Road, Ipswich.
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Mr Houtman claims American officers who advised him to get a six-month tourist visa gave him the wrong information.
UK immigration law was changed in April 2003 to stop people abusing immigration rules by obtaining residency by marrying British wives.
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When Mr Houtman applied for a new visa, Home Office officials thought he was trying to stay in the country illegally and told him he would have to leave Britain.
He has now sent a letter, written by a family friend, explaining his case to Prime Minister Tony Blair along with a copy of the article that appeared in the Star.
The letter states: "I appeal to your kindness and humanity to result a heartbreaking situation between the home office and an English/American couple.
"I know you are a very busy man trying to create a better world but I also know that the British people are your main concern and are close to your heart.
Creating a better place starts at the foundation of a family.
We all want to live in peace and happiness but this is only possible when there is love and tolerance between humans."
Mr Houtman also saw Ipswich MP Chris Mole who has written to Beverley Hughes, the minister of state responsible for immigration.
It could take up to four weeks before he can get a response from her so Mr Houtman faces another few anxious weeks, uncertain of his future.
Mr Houtman said: "I would love to get it cleared up, I want to stay here and I don't want to leave.
"I have to try to get the problem solved so I can start a new life. We are reaching out for the lifeline but it is not there. I am a fighter and I'm not ready to give up."
He has received support from strangers, and said: "People stop me every time I go into the town centre. They are mad at the government as I have a legitimate reason to stay but I am told I can't.
"A lot of people who have read the article are really annoyed as there are so many who abuse the system.
"I have had eight people shake my hand and say 'hang in there' and 'we are behind you' and I did not even know them."
He also plans to write a four-page letter to American president George W Bush but believes UK immigration policy has to change.
A statement from the Home Office said: "It is a long standing policy not to comment on individual cases.
"Overseas nationals wishing to come to the United Kingdom on the basis of marriage should apply for entry clearance from abroad. They will be given leave to enter the UK for two years after which they can apply for settlement. "Immigration rules on spouse visas were changed on April 1 to crack down on the abuse of the system where people would apply for a visitor's visa and then switch into marriage after their arrival.
"This prevented officers from examining applications in detail to confirm that the marriage was genuine and that there is adequate maintenance and accommodation."
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