‘Back then I thought the rules on immigration were bloody hard. Now? Impossible’ … Nasser Memarzia as Dalir
Ext. Moss Side, Manchester – Day. People from all walks of life come and go on a quiet high street. They talk on their phones, carry their shopping and take their children home from school. Dalir walks towards the Greater Manchester Law Centre, an unassuming building that sits among a cluster of local shops.
Int. Greater Manchester Law Centre – Day. Dalir enters the building. He’s lean, in his 60s. He has a pile of paperwork with him.
Int. Consulting room – Day. He slams down the paperwork.
Dalir: Where do I start? Ayesha – a young woman from Pakistan, arrived here in Manchester five years ago to be with her husband, who subsequently dished out months of violent beatings and rape, to put it bluntly. She runs back home to her mother’s in Pakistan, to find her brothers waiting for her. After her husband in the UK has been spreading false accusations of adultery. She flees for her life back to the UK, only to find out he’s cancelled her marriage visa. Her case lost yesterday because the Home Office won’t believe the danger she’s in. I’ll continue on with her case. I have to, I need to. These people rely on you for their survival.
Dalir drinks some water.
Dalir: You see, after Brexit, it exploded for us at the law centre – the racism, the panic. People believing the shit they were being fed.
A KNOCK on the door.
Dalir: Sorry, excuse me …
Dalir opens the door. Colleague appears with a coffee and a patty.
Dalir: Oh lovely, thank you. Breakfast. The shop across the road brings us patties and coffee in the morning, all free. And they’re good … and hot!
Dalir puts the patty down.
Dalir: My brother voted for Brexit. I don’t know why, well I do know, I don’t know for sure. I haven’t asked him. I don’t want to hate him. I’ve been an immigration lawyer for nearly 30 years. I’ve never witnessed anything like this. Back then I thought the rules on immigration were bloody hard. Now? Impossible. People are petrified. EU nationals frightened to death they are going to be thrown out of this country, their families ripped apart. There’s a provision under human rights that if a child has been here over a certain number of years and built up roots here, that the child and the family will be able to stay. Now they are saying if the families appeal, they have to be removed from the country while the appeal goes ahead … of course, then they can’t attend the appeal! It’s cruel and it’s vindictive.
Sound of a choir in the corridor.
Dalir: You hear that? I love that! That’s what keeps me going. People wanted a law centre, believed in one, a fight back against the cut backs. We had no funding, no premises, but we had the backing of people who shared our view, that free legal advice is a human right! Moss Side has embraced us. We had a fundraiser at the West Indian Sports and Social club round the corner. WAST came and sang for us … Women Asylum Seekers Together – that’s what it stands for. Women in shockingly vulnerable situations, facing homelessness and deportation. If there is anything good to come out of Brexit, it’s that – the unity and solidarity. And in that, there’s hope, yeah.