THE case of a Canadian family living in the Highlands who face being deported next month will be highlighted at a rally in the Netherlands tomorrow.
Jason and Christy Zielsdorf have been living and working in Scotland for more than eight years and have raised their five children here.
Despite investing more than £250,000 in Laggan Stores – known to millions as McKechnie’s in the BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen – they have reluctantly given up their legal battle with the Home Office to remain here. As thousands of people sign an online petition supporting the family at ipetitions.com, they face being deported without being able to sell their business.
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Australian national Gregg Brain was involved in an ultimately successful high-profile battle with authorities when he, wife Kathryn and son Lachlan, faced being deported when the UK Government changed the visa rules after they made their home in Dingwall. He will raise the Zielsdorfs’ case at the first international march for Scottish independence in The Hague.
Gregg told The National: “I’ve said before that if I can help any others stuck in the same situation I was, then I would. The first thing I’m going to talk about is the heartbreak of watching what’s happening to the Zielsdorfs.
“This family are having to lock the door of their shop, their home, and simply walk away from everything they own – because the Home Office didn’t have the integrity to hold to the written assurances that were given to them.
“They won’t even be able to sell any of it as a going concern. The shop is now shut, which is also a travesty for the local community, and especially for the community focus and employment it had been generating in a small rural village.
“This family of seven, with a successful business, will now be leaving the UK. They will be homeless, jobless, and the business shut down – all because of the manner in which the Home Office has treated them.”
Two campaign groups from the Netherlands and Germany have organised what is the first international march for Scottish independence in a bid to “mobilise” support for the cause.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, meanwhile, has spoken about the outrage of the UK’s approach to asylum.
In evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, she said: “Vulnerable people, particularly children, are being badly let down by the UK Government’s broken asylum system – with their human rights ignored.
“In stark contrast, our New Scots strategy sets out a vision where asylum seekers are welcomed and integrated into our communities.”