After living in Germany for more than a year, Amin met a German woman and fell hopelessly in love. Two years after the beginning of their romance, Amin was deported to Algeria. Since then, they have done everything they can to be reunited. Here is Amin's story, in his own words:
"My name is Amin, I'm 29 years old and I'm from Algeria.
In February 2015 I left Algeria and traveled to Germany via Spain. I had a Schengen visa at the time that was valid for a month. Because of the visa, I was allowed to move around Europe and I wasn’t worried about the journey at all.
I arrived in Dortmund [in the west of Germany] and I didn't know anyone there. I came across a Tunisian guy at the station who pointed me in the direction of a migrant center.
While I was waiting for my asylum application to be processed I was living in an apartment which I shared with several other asylum seekers. We were two people in each room and often there would be four or even six people in the apartment.
The rhythm of our days was regulated by the various meetings we would have at official offices concerning our asylum claim, or by waiting around for answers from the immigration office."
Meeting a German woman
"A little more than a year after my arrival, in June 2016, I met a German woman. She was working in the bakery where I went to have a coffee with a friend of mine. I was attracted to her, she has blonde hair and blue eyes. We chatted a bit and exchanged numbers.
Gradually we fell in love. Do you know, it was a bit like in the song by Joe Dassin, which sings about a client falling in love with a baker who bakes mini chocolate croissants.
Sadly, those happy days abruptly ended, three months after we met, my asylum claim was rejected.
We were worried that I would be sent back to my country and that the police would come looking for me, so she said I could move in with her. I never went out without her, for fear of being stopped.
I would spend my days waiting for her to get back, or for news from my lawyer who was trying to get my papers in order."
'When I pushed open the door, there were four police officers waiting for me'
"The months passed but nothing changed. We wanted to get married. It wasn't just because of my situation, I really loved this woman. We didn't want to be separated.
Then, in December 2017, I received a letter from my lawyer which told me I had an appointment the following month at the immigration office. I felt relieved and my fiancée too. We thought that we would at last have the chance to live happily together.
But this meeting didn't turn out as I expected. It was, instead, the beginning of a lot of trouble.
When I pushed open the door of the office with my partners, there were four police officers waiting for me. Straight away I understood that they were there to deport me.
Things happened very quickly then. I received a letter obliging me to leave Germany and I was sent to an administrative detention center in Büren [in the north of Germany].
It is essentially like a prison. You are left alone in your room and you are only allowed to go out between the hours of 2 and 9 pm. I found it really hard to get used to living in this tiny space because I suffer from claustrophobia. The first few nights were very difficult and I was hardly able to sleep."
‘Locked up like a criminal’
"During the day there is nothing to do. And that continues week after week, you are locked up as if you were a criminal. But I am not a criminal. I have never stolen as much as an egg, I just happened not to have the right papers.
One morning in May 2018, the police officers came to get me from my cell. They tied my hands and feet with plastic cables and they took me to the airport. I couldn't walk, I had to make little jumps forward to move along.
I didn't fight it as I knew that wouldn't help me. When I got on the plane there were five Algerian police officers waiting for me.
Once we arrived in Algiers [the Algerian capital], I spent a day at the police station, where I was interrogated before returning to my parents' house.
Both myself and my fiancée are very sad that we cannot see each other any longer. We call each other every day to try and stop the feeling of missing each other. We met up for one week in Tunisia last summer but it is really not easy to be separated. I despair.I hope that one day we might be reunited but I am not allowed to set foot on European soil before the end of next year . So it is very complicated for us. I am counting the days until I can see her again."
This article was translated from the French by Emma Wallis.