American dad living in Cornwall fears deportation over paperwork ‘difficulties’

Donte Lavelle Spillane says he might be deported - unless he can prove his identity. Credit: BPM Media

An American who has lived in Cornwall since the age of five says he fears deportation unless his application for permanent residency is approved.

Donte Lavelle Spillane, who lives in Redruth, is in the process of applying for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status - which is also known as ‘settlement’. His application is currently being considered by the Home Office

The 25-year-old has now launched a Crowdfunder to help him cover the cost of legal fees.

Donte was born in the US but moved to the UK when he was three years old after being adopted by a couple in Bedfordshire.

He grew up in Cornwall and studied at schools in Camelford and Bodmin.

But after moving out of his adoptive family’s home at the age of 16, Donte found himself ‘sofa surfing’.

By the time he was 20, Donte was homeless and had to be placed in supported housing in Redruth.

He started applying for jobs but quickly learned he could not prove his identity, because of the “difficult relationship” he says he has with his family and the paperwork he needs.

'I don't have the correct paperwork'

"Up to this point, I had only really thought of myself as British or Cornish but when I applied for jobs and was unable to supply full identification, that's when a new set of difficulties started,” he explained.

“I had not experienced this before and those who supported me found this situation equally perplexing.

"After various attempts to contact my adoptive parents, I was able to establish that they did not correctly register my adoption and although I have no other memories of being anything other than British, I don't have the correct paperwork to prove this."

He says he has struggled to get even casual work because he does not have a passport and is not able to get one.

After reaching out for legal advice, Donte says he was told without 'indefinite leave to remain' status, he cannot legally work in the UK or claim any benefits.

While there are other options which would mean he could stay in the UK even if he is not granted settled status - such as limited leave to remain - he says he fears being deported from the country he calls home.

He said: "Because my adoption wasn't registered correctly, I can't use that to prove that I have lived here my whole life.

“I've already raised £1,000 to pay for legal costs but times get tough trying to constantly come up with money for things. You can burn it out."

"In all my life, I have never left Cornwall and just wish I could have the same life chances as my friends and peers. To live, to work and be the best I can be."

When approached for a comment, a Home Office spokesperson said the department cannot comment on individual cases.