She had chosen in September 2014 to settle in Belgium for a while with her two daughters of 4 and 9 years old. The three of them had a Schengen visa that was valid for two years. They were living in Brussels where the two girls were going to school. The mother had to make a round trip to Morocco on a week-end and she had left her girls with a friend.
On her return, on November 24th 2014, the mother was arrested at Brussels’ airport because both the officer in charge at the airport and the Foreigners’ Office deemed her intentions to come to Belgium to be ‘unclear’. At the airport, she stated that her two children were waiting for her and that she had to go and join them. She gave the address where the children were staying to the Foreigners’ Office.
She was brought to the Caricole closed centre. After a few days, she managed to warn a network on the situation of her daughters who found themselves alone in the apartment where they stayed because the friend was not able to take care of them anymore and on the Office that did not worry about their fate.
Following this call, the girls were taken care of by militants, and the authorities in charge were warned. The contacts between the mother and her daughters were maintained through daily phone calls and visits at the closed centre.
The mother asked to be released in order to be with her children or for them to be brought next to her. She asked to be allowed to live with her kids in Belgium or to leave the country with them.
According to the Office, she would be unwanted on the territory whereas the daughters were legal, hence she should be repatriated whereas her children could stay!
Her lawyer, the General Council on Children Rights and the Youth Service System started to put pressure on Mr Théo Francken, State secretary for Asylum and Immigration and on the Foreigners office, in order to enable the mother to be with her children and for this Kafkaesque situation to end.
Following this pressure, the Office announced on Friday December 5th at 6 p.m. that the mother and the girls would be deported the morning after at 8 a.m. The mother would be brought to the airport and the children to the airport federal police with their passport at 8 a.m. Seen the lack of transparency on the deportation of ‘legal’ children, the short notice to be able to prepare the girls, the absence of passports, and also the terms of this deportation announced by the Foreigners Office, the mother decided to reject the deportation and she refused that her children be presented to the airport federal police.
After 15 days of imprisonment, the separation from her daughters and seen the very few alternatives possible, the mother -totally exhausted and disgusted- decided to go back to Morocco and to pay the journey for the three of them herself.
The flight would be on Thursday December 12th at noon, the social assistan of the centre asserting that this way she and her daughters could continue moving and travelling freely with their visas remaining valid.
The terms of this return were painfully discussed between the social assistant of the centre and the Office, so that the children would be handled carefully and put in the plane next to their mother without having to go through the federal police seen it was not a deportation but a voluntary return financed by the mother herself.
New dirty trick by the Foreigners office:
However, rather than letting the family leave without a care, the Foreigners Office was again picking on them. Without warning anyone, they decided to bypass the will of the mother to pay for the trip, and they paid for the tickets of the girls whereas the ticket of the mother was paid by the airline, with the intention to transform this ‘voluntary return’ into a ‘deportation’ and to seal the passports of the mother and children, denying them the right to enter the Schengen area for a period of five years.
During the stopover in Casablanca, the mother was questioned by the Moroccan police on the reasons of this ‘deportation’ and she had all the difficulties to take another flight to her final destination, Tangiers, because the tickets had not been registered by the Office.
They finally reached Tangiers the morning after around 4 a.m. They will not be allowed to come back to the Schengen area for five years and they are now filed at the Moroccan police.
With this deportation, the Office managed to dismiss a problem outright, getting rid at the same time of the ongoing pressure by the different associations for children rights that were pointing at their obvious negligence, not worried on the fate of these little girls left alone after her mother had been arrested.
Through a subterfuge they really are excelling in, the Office succeded in transforming a (forced) voluntary return into a forced deportation of a woman with a visa in order but deemed ‘suspicious’ and in deporting her two children who were previously ‘legal’ on the territory.
Once again, the Office managed to apply their fundamental objective: repressive restriction of the freedom of movement and settlement: they call it ‘control of the migratory flows’.