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Teen daughters of British citizen face deportation

FACING DEPORTATION: Jeanette Valentin with her daughters (Image: Jeanette Valentin)

THE TEENAGE daughters of a former Chagos Islander are facing deportation.

Taniella Moustache, 18, and her sister Nesta, 16, do not have an automatic right to British citizenship like their mother, a second generation UK-based Chagossian, did.

The girls’ grandmother was removed from the Chagos Islands, along with the island’s other inhabitants, in 1971 by order of the British government so that a UK-US military base could be built on the main island Diego Garcia.

Their mother, Jeanette Valentin, is appealing for funds to help save her daughters from deportation.

In a statement on the Crowdfunding page set up to raise £8,000 for them, Valentin said: “I am a British citizen whose family comes from Diego Garcia, a British island in the Indian Ocean. My family were forcibly removed from the island 50 years ago to make way for an American air base. Now my daughters, who are 16 and 18, are not afforded the right of British citizenship by the UK Government and are facing deportation. We have no family anywhere else and they have nowhere to go.”

Valentin is appealing for funds to pay for legal help and the fees to apply for her daughters’ citizenship so that she can keep her family together.

The family have been offered legal support from concerned friends and strangers. The fundraising page has raised almost £7,000 so far.

Conservative MP for Crawley Henry Smith has submitted a private member’s bill to allow individuals descended from the Chagos Islands to register as British citizens.

Smith, whose constituency is home to the largest UK population of Chagossians, said: "We cannot change history, but we can support those removed from their homeland and their descendants who are not covered by the existing law and protections that, as Britons, they should enjoy.

"When these families have come to the UK, as is their right, their children have been treated as immigrants like any others by the Home Office. Therefore, they are subject to the usual financial costs and administrative implications. At this time, we can ease the burden. We can provide assistance to those whose story is not recognised in the country that removed them from the place — a British territory — that they call home. Of course, had the population not been evicted half a century ago, all born on the islands would already have British citizenship status.”

Current legislation only gives British citizenship to one generation of Chagossians born outside the UK.

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