Please don't deport me
HE has spent most of his life in Britain but today James Rioux faces being torn from his Suffolk family and wife-to-be after he was refused British citizenship.
HH has spent most of his life in Britain but today James Rioux faces being torn from his Suffolk family and wife-to-be after he was refused British citizenship.
Mr Rioux, 33, was born in America to a Suffolk mother and a Canadian father and moved here as a small boy when his parents divorced.
He has applied to stay in this country permanently, but his application for British citizenship was refused this week because he was convicted of drink-driving in America in 2005.
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With his three-month visa due to expire on Monday, he will have to leave the country unless a loophole can be found.
Home Office officials say Mr Rioux is not eligible for citizenship until his conviction is “considered spent” in 2012.
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However, his case has been backed by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer who said he is “absolutely scandalised” by the decision.
Mr Rioux, who is currently staying with his mother, Jacqueline Giddens, in Kirton near Felixstowe, said: “It is ridiculous to prevent me from being what I am - British. This is where I belong.
“I could understand it if I was a sex offender or murderer, but not for a driving offence.
“I have served my sentence (30 days community service and one year on probation) and I shouldn't be condemned for what I have already given back to the public.”
He now hopes Mr Gummer can lobby Home Secretary Alan Johnson for an emergency extension to his visa to prevent him being sent back to Idaho.
Since 1993, Mr Rioux has pursued a career as a carpenter in the US, which led to him working at the White House on a restoration project.
But he is now determined to stay permanently in the UK after re-igniting his relationship with his “first love” Michelle Lloyd, who he met at Farlingaye High School. The pair became engaged earlier this year.
Miss Lloyd, 31, of Chesterton Close, Ipswich, said: “It would mean everything to me if he could stay for good.”
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “Mr Rioux's conviction will be considered spent in 2012, when he will be able to reapply for citizenship.
“The fact that Mr Rioux has been refused citizenship does not prevent him from applying for other forms of immigration status, such as an extension of his visa.”
CONSERVATIVE MP John Gummer today said he had taken James Rioux's case to the highest level in a bid to win him British citizenship.
Mr Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, which includes Mr Rioux's mother's home in Kirton, said: “I am absolutely scandalised that the home office has behaved in this way.
“This man is British. His mother is British, his grandparents are British and he has lived in this country for a substantial part of his life.
“He should be allowed to live here and they (the Home Office) don't have the legal right to suggest he can't because of a traffic offence four years ago.
“Last night, I spoke to the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister so it is being with at the highest level. I am really determined to get this sorted.”
HIS LIFE IN SUFFOLK:-
Mr Rioux first came to Suffolk to live with his mum after his parents divorced and studied at Stutton Primary, Kingston Middle and Farlingaye High schools.
After school, he moved back to America to be with his father, Jean-Guy Rioux, who had previously served at Woodbridge Air Force base, near Bawdsey.
When their relationship broke down, he tried applying for British citizenship shortly after his 18th birthday, but he was unable to come up with the money or the necessary documents. He resigned himself to having to start a life in America.
Miss Giddens said: “The first time he was refused citizenship was totally devastating. I don't want to go through that again.”