BORDER Agency officials have apologised to a young woman falsely arrested during a raid on suspected people traffickers in Huddersfield.
Officers from the UK Border Agency arrested Pakistani-born Raheela Bi Bi, 20, because she couldn’t prove she was in the country legally.
But her family had submitted an application to stay in Britain several weeks beforehand – and officials had misplaced the paperwork.
Raheela, who lives with her parents and three brothers in Lockwood, was detained for 46 hours.
She was taken to Huddersfield Police Station and then transferred to an immigration holding centre near Manchester Airport.
Eventually, officials were forced to admit their blunder and told her the papers had turned up in an office in Liverpool.
Raheela was then given a letter, seen by the Examiner, apologising for the mistake.
The letter blamed an “administrative failing” and said: “We apologise for the failings of the UK Border Agency and for your unnecessary detention.”
But Raheela’s ordeal was still not over as she claims she was released near Terminal Two at Manchester Airport without money or a mobile phone to let worried relatives know what had happened.
Raheela, speaking through her cousin Nikki Hussain, 34, said: “It was a nightmare. I was held for nearly two days when I had done nothing wrong. I was traumatised.”
On Tuesday of last week Border Agency officials carried out a series of raids across Huddersfield which led to three women and a man being arrested.
Mrs Hussain said one of those questioned was her sister Nisa Ul-Haq, 37, who runs immigration specialists Haq & Sanderson in Hillhouse Lane, Fartown.
Mrs Hussain and Raheela were at Ms Ul-Haq’s home in Huddersfield when it was raided.
Mrs Hussain was staying at the house with her two young children while she recovered from an operation. Raheela was there to help look after the children Rohaan, eight months, and five-year-old Sundus.
Raheela answered the door and told how three officers, two men and a woman, barged in.
They showed a warrant and demanded to know the identities of everybody in the house.
Mrs Hussain told how Raheela explained that her mother Maqsooda Bi, a tailor, had legal status.
Maqsooda had come to the UK from Pakistan in 2007 on a work permit.
She was then allowed to bring her family over and had twice had the permit extended.
In September the family applied for indefinite leave to remain under the five-year rule.
This application had been submitted by Ms Ul-Haq’s firm – and the files had been seized in the raids meaning Raheela could not prove she was telling the truth.
During her 46-hour detention, agency officials repeatedly insisted no application had been made.
Mrs Hussain said: “Eventually the chief immigration officer called Raheela’s legal representative to say they had made a mistake and the application had turned up in an office in Liverpool.
“Raheela was in a terrible state.”
In the agency’s letter they admitted the application had “not been inputted onto our database”.
Ms Ul-Haq told the Examiner the allegations against her were based on false accusations and all matters were being denied.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said yesterday: “Raheela Bi Bi was arrested on suspicion of overstaying her visa during a UK Border Agency operation carried out in Huddersfield last Tuesday.
“In fact Ms Bi Bi did have an outstanding application to remain in the UK and she was released as soon as this was established.
“We have apologised to her for the delay in finding this application on our system.”
Last week raids were also carried out at Ezaah Tailorz in Lockwood and Ezaah Boutiques, Blacker Road, Birkby.
Three homes in Huddersfield were also raided along with a house in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
All those arrested have been released on bail until the New Year pending further inquiries.