Bolivian woman facing deportation despite her marriage to Holloway firefighter wins support of 5,600 strangers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 February 2018

Colin Jones and his wife Elizabeth Madrid outside Holloway Fire Station, Hornsey Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

Colin Jones and his wife Elizabeth Madrid outside Holloway Fire Station, Hornsey Road. Picture: Polly Hancock


Every Monday morning Elizabeth Madrid kisses her husband Colin Jones goodbye not knowing if it will be the day she is locked up and sent for deportation.

Colin and Elizabeth. Colin and Elizabeth.

As she nervously enters Becket House immigration centre in London Bridge to sign on, Colin, a firefighter at Holloway Road, is made to wait outside.

The pair say the stress of not knowing if she will come back out is too much, but they must go through it every week.

They fell in love after meeting at the fire station where Elizabeth, who is Bolivian, worked as a cleaner.

After getting married in 2015 they sent off for a visa but were made to wait an agonising 12 months for a response – and it was not the one they wanted. They told Elizabeth she had to leave the country within 28 days.

Colin and Elizabeth on their wedding day in 2015. Colin and Elizabeth on their wedding day in 2015.

The 44-year-old told the Gazette: “I’ve been here for 14 years, I feel at home here – my life is here. It’s very stressful for me. When I go to sign on I don’t know if they will lock me away.”

Elizabeth arrived in England in 2003 on a visitor’s visa, before getting a student visa and studying English.

An extension was refused by the Home Office and she was told to leave, but never followed up the order and she started working, paying taxes and national insurance. She has never claimed benefits, nor committed a crime.

“They told us if we wanted to be together we had to go to Bolivia,” said Colin. “I’m dumbfounded by it all. The weekly trips to the immigration centre are the worst part.

“Immigration centres are a real eye-opener. They talk to you like you are nothing. Elizabeth is just waiting to be deported basically. It’s so stressful.

“Every time she goes I think she’s going to be taken to the deportation centre. They can just detain her and then give seven days’ notice before putting her on a plane. She can go any time.

“I can’t go in the centre. I just wait outside pacing up and down. I don’t know what I would do if she didn’t come out. She’s a rock for me, helping me deal with the fallout from the tough incidents I have at work, and I love her so much.”

Colin was told a contributing factor for the rejection was that the papers were submitted from England and not Bolivia.

“It’s got increasingly tougher to get a visa,” he said. “They make you pay £800 for the application, £150 for an English language test and you pay £500 to the NHS.”

Now Elizabeth has stopped working, Colin has taken on a second role as a part-time decorator and money is tight.

“It’s ironic,” he added. “The firefighters are all being given the freedom of the borough of Islington, but my wife hasn’t got the freedom to be in this country.”

A petition supporting the couple has reached more than 5,500 signatures in a month.

A Home Office spokesman said the decision was made because Elizabeth had no leave to remain and “did not meet the requirements of the immigration rules for the category in which she applied”.

A spokesman added: “There were no exceptional reasons for her to remain in the UK because her relationship could continue overseas. We expect people with no legal basis to remain in the UK to leave the country voluntarily.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories

A single mother is demanding that the council fixes her flood-damaged flat – and foot the bill.

Yesterday, 12:51

I heard about Marcel Campbell’s death while driving on Monday evening. My heart fell to my feet. I lost concentration and nearly crashed the car.

Yesterday, 09:34

Six parked cars were damaged in a crash in Caledonian Road last night.

Yesterday, 07:01

Survivors of horrific abuse in Islington’s kids’ homes are fighting for compensation decades after at least 100 were allegedly brutalised under the council’s care.

Tue, 17:56

A man has been arrested over the crash in Finsbury Park yesterday that left a 26-year-old fighting for his life.

Tue, 14:35

Delivery drivers will be banned from loitering in roads off Upper Street after neighbours said constant anti-social behaviour was making their lives hell.

Tue, 11:09

Marks and Spencer in Holloway Road is one of 14 branches across the country set to close, the firm has revealed.

Tue, 11:05

Finsbury Park’s franchised Post Office has officially launched after the long row over its takeover.


“I try and do my best to enhance the young person’s capabilities. I’m very focused on their education, their wellbeing and their cultural needs.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now