Book Review

Handbook sheds light on plight of illegal immigrants

Immigration Law: Handbook by Rose Muigai. PHOTO
Immigration Law: Handbook by Rose Muigai. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

The mystery Kenyan who fell from the sky in London after flying as a stowaway in the wheel well of a Kenya Airways plane has rekindled the debate about immigration and how poor young people from the global South are putting their lives in mortal danger in their quest to find greener pastures in the global North.

Many of them believe that crossing the Mediterranean Sea and landing in Europe is the silver bullet that will put a stop to all their economic problems.

Yet, landing in these countries is just the beginning of their challenges, not the end, because once there, they realise that they are locked out of employment opportunities because they lack the requisite papers. For many, it takes years, and odious legal journeys to finally win acceptance in the countries they immigrate to. It takes even longer to qualify to return to their countries of birth legally and safely.

So, what are Kenyans and Africans to do once they find that they have survived the treacherous journey and now need to regularise their stay in the countries they have chosen to settle?

That is the question that Rose Muigai, who has spent over 15 years practising immigration law in the UK and Wales has been answering in the corridors of justice abroad.


And when she returned to Kenya, she found that the children of her former clients were facing similar challenges either while seeking to be reunited with their families abroad or to return home to settle.

She found that she was answering the same questions over and over again, so, to resolve that challenge of having to repeat herself, she embarked on compiling a book that can help Africans, and Kenyans in particular, to answer the questions that bother them about immigration, whether they intend to work, live, study or simply travel to another country.

“This book was written in response to the need to address the literature gap in the market,” Rose says in the preface to her book, aptly titled Immigration Law Handbook. In it, she tackles critical issues about citizenship, including the question of whether a country can revoke a person’s citizenship as Kenya did when the government deported and disowned Miguna Miguna, the activist who has been giving political leaders sleepless nights through his criticism, jibes and tirades.

Rose, who has wide experience as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, was studying law in London when she encountered a large number of Kenyans who were stuck because they were not considered British and had no papers allowing them to return home. Their plight spurred her to specialise in immigration law.

Her accidental meeting in a church frequented by Kenyans became a revelation moment for her.

Before she opened her practice, these immigrants had put their faith in God to find a way out of their misery. What they needed more, however, was a lawyer who understood their plight, their language as well as how the UK legal system works.

Until she stepped in that gap, there was no other Kenyan lawyer who was offering the service. And soon, her clients’ cases started making their way through the legal mazes of the UK justice system.
Her book, which cites some of these cases, costs Sh1,500 and is available at Text Book Centre, Sarit.