AN urgent petition has been launched to save a Pendle man from being kicked out of the country so that he can care for his sick mother.
Sam Wright (23) has had his application for a long-term visa to stay in the UK refused, meaning he could be sent back to America as early as Sunday.
His mother, Rosaria Motyka (54), who lives in Rowland Avenue, Nelson, suffers from the painful muscular illness fibromyalgia as well as severe arthritis in her spine and ankle.
For the past two years, while Sam has been on a temporary visa, he has been heavily involved with her care, helping with cooking, cleaning and taking her out.
But despite this he has failed in his application for a long-term visa and is due to be removed from the UK.
Officers from the UK Border Agency turned up at his home out of the blue on Monday, taking him to Manchester Airport where he has been detained awaiting his flight.
Rosaria said: “I am absolutely devastated. I am a single parent and Sam and I have always been very close. He helps me to get around as I have difficulties walking and have to use a cane. Losing him is like losing an arm - he is more than a son to me he is my best friend.
“Since he was taken away on Monday I haven’t been able to eat or sleep, I just can’t stop worrying about him.”
In a last-ditch attempt to keep him in the country, Sam’s girlfriend Bethany Dyson (19) of Laneshaw Bridge, set up an online petition.
It received instant widespread support, collecting over 300 signatures in the first five hours and the backing of Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson.
Bethany, of Valley Mill Court, said: “We are working non-stop to keep Sam in the country. He has set up a life here for himself, he has family and friends and nowhere to go if he is sent back to America. We would all be devastated if he was to leave and I would truly be lost without him.”
Sam has been living in Nelson on a temporary visa since June, 2009. He submitted an application for a long-term visa the following December, on the grounds that he needed to care for his mother, but claims that due to complications with the system, he missed the deadline and accidently ended up overstaying illegally.
Sam said: “I haven’t intentionally done anything wrong. I’m a good guy, I’ve stuck to all the rules while I have been here and I have built a life for myself - this is my home. I just want a visa so I can take care of my mum, settle down with my girlfriend and start contributing to society by earning a living.”
Sam has been unable to work while on his temporary visa but this has not stopped him getting involved with the community on several projects.
He and his mother have set up a Neighbourhood Watch programme in Rowland Avenue, which Rosaria says she will not be able to continue without Sam.
Pendle’s MP Andrew Stephenson has been involved with Sam’s case for the past couple of months and has been working closely with his family.
He said: “There are compelling and compassionate grounds why Sam should be allowed to stay. He is a pleasant lad and is making an important contribution to the community, working with the police and setting up the Neighbourhood Watch programme.
“Although the government has recently stepped up its efforts to stop people from illegally staying in the country I have made a strong case to the boarder agency and I hope we can resolve the situation.”
Sam said: “I’m just trying to stay positive, I know I have a lot of people on my side. I’m not enjoying the situation but it could be worse, for now I’m still here and I still have hope.”
The UK Border Agency confirmed that they were dealing with Sam’s case, but were unable to comment on it.
If you would like to sign the petition to keep Sam in the UK go to www.savesam.tk before 2 p.m. today.