Give me back my deported husband, woman urges Minister

HSE says Brazilian deportee’s marriage to Galway woman Harriet Bruce was genuine

Separated by deportation: Kleber Medeiros and Harriet Bruce,  who married in Ballinasloe  last December

Separated by deportation: Kleber Medeiros and Harriet Bruce, who married in Ballinasloe last December

 

A Co Galway woman is calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, to give her back her husband, who was deported to Brazil in July. Harriet Bruce says Kleber Medeiros, whom she married last December in St Michael’s Catholic Church in Ballinasloe, was deported in error.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) acknowledges that their marriage is genuine and Ms Bruce says their constitutional rights to a family life and to privacy have been infringed by the State.

Mr Medeiros came to Ireland in 2011 on a student visa and was living in Co Galway. He and Ms Bruce met five years ago and began living together in 2013 in Ballinasloe, where she ran her own business and he worked in a meat factory.

“We had known each other for about a year before we became a couple,” Ms Bruce says. “He was working and studying but in March 2012, unfortunately, his English college closed down and he lost his student visa. He continued working and was paying taxes all along. He went to the Garda National Immigration Bureau [GNIB] in Galway, he was upfront all along and his employer was backing him all the way while they tried to sort out his visa.”

Ms Bruce said she and Mr Medeiros were living together in her house, which they had renovated, and “we have our dogs and are planning to have children. We are genuine couple”.

When they got engaged last year, however, someone objected to the HSE – which registers marriages – saying it would be a “marriage of convenience”.

“We were very shocked someone would do that,” Ms Bruce says. “But we thought it would be fine and decided to go ahead with the religious ceremony. We had all the invitations sent out, the hotel booked, the time off work booked. We thought we’d have the wedding day and do the civil registration when it was sorted.”

However, in July, Mr Medeiros received a letter from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service telling him to present himself at the GNIB office at Burgh Quay in Dublin on Tuesday, July 12th, at 2pm “to make arrangements for your removal from the State”.

Ms Bruce says the couple were “devastated,” but Mr Medeiros, who was anxious to co-operate and optimistic that the situation would be resolved, presented himself. He was deported the next day, and remains in Brazil.

On July 22nd, a letter to Mr Medeiros from the HSE arrived at their home in Ballinasloe, saying: “Following an investigation of an objection to the above proposed marriage . . . the Superintendent Registrar has decided that there is not sufficient evidence to uphold the objection . . . and no impediment to the marriage exists.

“Please contact this office to continue the processing of your notice of intention to marry.”

It was a “relief, but too late”, says Ms Bruce. “Our lives have been turned upside down by this. Surely the State can’t be allowed get away with this.”

Mr Medeiros, through his solicitor, Gearóid Geraghty, is appealing the deportation. In a letter dated September 29th, the Department of Justice’s repatriation division told Mr Geraghty the appeal was being looked at.

“You should note your client’s case is amongst many to be considered by the Minister at present and, as such . . . it is not possible to provide a specific indication as to when your client’s case will be finalised.”

The department would not comment on the case.

Since August 2015, when legislation to combat sham marriages commenced, 103 objections to proposed marriages on this ground have been made. Of these, 78 were upheld and the marriages were not allowed.