‘I will be grateful forever’, says final year Engineering student saved from deportation
She was held in a detention centre with her mother for a week
20-year-old Shiromini Satkunarajah is in her final year at Bangor University. She is due to graduate with a first class honours degree in engineering, but last week was arrested pending deportation to Sri Lanka. This morning, the ruling was overturned.
Shiromini says: “I will be grateful forever. I can’t wait to get back to university and continue with my studies.”
She has lived in the UK since she was 12 years old, having moved to Harrow eight years ago. However, on Tuesday 21st February – just three months from completing her degree – Shiromini was arrested with her mother, and put into police custody. “I am currently three months away from completing all exams and assessments to graduate in BENG Electronic Engineering (Honors).”
Shiromini, know as ‘Mini’ by friends, achieved 84 per cent in first year, 77 per cent in second year and 87.5 per cent so far this year: “As you can see, I’m easily on target on getting a first class, graduating on the 20th July.”
Of the news today, she said: “My mother and I are very happy to have been released and you all know it is only because of everyone’s support, most importantly Hywel Williams MP. Thanks to everyone who raised awareness by signing and sharing the petition.
“I am still overwhelmed with the help and support I am getting.”
Bangor University appealed the decision in a letter to the Home Office, asking them to allow a “top student” to finish her studies.
She added: “Please note that I haven’t been granted leave to remain [after graduation] and solicitors are on board to try and sort it out.”
— Change.org UK (@UKChange) February 27, 2017
When she was initially arrested, she started a campaign to prevent deportation. The petition, directed primarily at MP Amber Rudd, has gained over 134,000 signatures.
The petition states: “We were handed the refusal letter which states ‘You do not have a right to appeal or administrative review against the decision to refuse your application’. We were taken home straight away to pack a bag and taken to Caernarfon police station. Before being put in the cell, I was assured that we would shortly be taken to the detention centre.
“My mother and I were separated and put into two private cells.” That evening they were taken to the Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre, awaiting deportation.
She was due to be deported to Sri Lanka today, on 28th February.
The campaign also supported the hashatag #BordersKillKnowledge.
Shiromini will graduate on 20th July – her estimated degree score will be 83 per cent.