NICOLA Sturgeon has defended the right of an orphaned teenager who has lived in Scotland for a decade to remain in the country after deportation fears.
Giorgi Kakava, 13, was aged just three when he fled to Scotland from Georgia with his mother Sopio Baikhadze, who died in 2018.
He was granted permission to stay in the UK along with his grandmother and legal guardian, Ketino Baikhadze, in July 2018 after the Church of Scotland launched a campaign. However, their residence permits expired in December.
Giorgi’s plight was raised with the First Minister in Holyrood by his Glasgow MSP Bob Doris – who urged the Home Office to move swiftly to remove uncertainty surrounding the teenager’s immigration status.
Doris said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that that Tories are presiding over a system which would even consider deporting a 13-year-old who knows nothing other than living in Scotland.
“This whole case highlights a systemic failure of how the UK applies immigration rules – it’s now time for the Home Office to do the right thing and support Giorgi, a vulnerable young asylum seeker who calls Glasgow his home.
“If the UK Government don’t want to support vulnerable young people, we have a government in Scotland which does.
“The immediate priority is of course to ensure Giorgi and his gran are granted permanent residency as soon as possible. However I have no doubt that as an independent country, we can end the Tories’ hostile environment once and for all.
“Full powers over our immigration system will allow us to handle cases like this in a way that benefits our communities, and supports all those who want to make Scotland their home.”
The Home Office has said it is “wrong” to say either Giorgi or his grandmother is at risk of deportation, adding there is an outstanding application which is being processed.
Sturgeon said: “I hope everybody in this chamber will agree, Giorgi is Scottish.