Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 25, November 13, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Defend the Rights of All against State Racism!

Opposition to Inhuman Programme of Deportations

A deportation flight took off on November 10 from Birmingham Airport at 1.20a.m. The chartered plane, an Airbus A350-900, which can take up to 350 passengers, had just four people on board who the Home Office were deporting to Jamaica. That only four out of an original more than 50 were on board is testament both to the outrage and opposition from the friends and families of those detained to be deported and the movements throughout Britain against this inhuman treatment. It is also revealing the modus operandi of the government, which appears to be to trawl for people to be deported and then see who they are left with after the popular opposition, legal moves and direct action have blocked this outrageous programme.

Even those who have not been placed on the flights are left in limbo, having to report to the Home Office at regular intervals, with the threat of deportation constantly hanging over their heads. So in addition to being traumatised by the treatment which regards them not as human beings but as "deportees" or "criminals" who have overstayed their residency, they cannot go about their lives without a state of apprehension constantly over their heads. It is not even clear from the government's rules and regulations what it considers the status of residency of these people, many of whom are women with families born in this country, or have been in this country in a young age with a community and family here, to be. Should they have lived here for five, ten, twelve or some other number of years to be allowed to claim permanent residency? The mere act of applying seems to have been a trigger for detention and the threat of deportation in a number of cases.

The treatment of these people is the essence of racism coming from the state. Asked to attend the Home Office for an interview, a number were then summarily sent to Yarl's Wood, which is operated by Serco, to be detained. Here they were treated worse than criminals, without any regard for their rights, or any presumption of the possibility of grave injustices to those detained or their friends and families. For instance, Jacqueline McKenzie of Leigh Day solicitors, said she had been informed that the wrist of one of the persons detained was believed to have been fractured during a restraint episode in the detention centre. Those detained had their phones removed, were threatened and bullied, denied food, and so on.

These deportations and threats of deportations must stop. It is reported that the number of people on the last four charter flights deporting them to Jamaica has decreased from 17 to 13 to seven and now four. There is a double injustice here, in that recent governments have been issuing honeyed words regarding the racist mistreatment of the Windrush generation and their descendants, promising to right the wrongs these generations have suffered and are suffering. It now is evident what little meaning these words have in reality. The racism of the state is even more entrenched.

Seeking to justify these actions, Home Secretary Priti Patel made an outrageous and completely unfounded statement which is an insult to these people who have been contributing so much to the life and human relationships of this country. In the statement which makes the blood boil, she said on the evening of the flight: "I make no apology for removing foreign national offenders who have committed crimes which will have had a devastating impact on their victims. The people removed to Jamaica today are convicted criminals who have been found guilty of a range of serious offences. They have no place in our society. It is absolutely galling that, yet again, last-minute legal claims have stopped the removal of 33 people, including those guilty of abhorrent crimes such as murder and child sexual offences."

Speaking from immigration detention, a young man, who spent part of his adolescence in care, told The Independent: "They're trying to remove me for a mistake I made when I was a teenager. I was around older guys who were influencing me. I was young and dumb. It's been five years now since I served my sentence. I have changed. I've moved away from that kind of thing. But I haven't been given a second chance in my adult life to turn things around. I don't know anyone in Jamaica. I will probably die if I get sent there."

To add insult to injury, it is reported that the British government plans to threaten to stop granting visas to citizens of countries that are "not co-operating" with attempted deportations from the UK, as outlined in proposals in the reactionary and racist Nationality and Borders Bill.

Seth Ramocan, Jamaica's high commissioner in London, said: "From a human rights perspective I am deeply concerned about cases in which persons are being removed having lived in the UK since childhood and have no known relations in Jamaica or familiarity with Jamaica. There are clear examples of these cases and I implore the Home Office to give due consideration to this concern."

As a report in the Guardian, one among many similar reports, elaborated, one lawyer who represented several people who were on the list for the Jamaica flight but did not ultimately fly said: "Some due to fly had been unable to access legal advice prior to being detained due to the cost and others had obtained poor-quality advice. Most cases were deferred by the Home Office themselves, and in those brought to court it was independent judges who ruled that there were legal grounds why many on the flight list needed to remain in the UK while their cases were considered further."

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Karen Doyle, of the organisation Movement For Justice, said: "These unjust flights rip families apart. Of the 34 detainees we spoke to many had no or inadequate legal representatives."

Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, said: "All of those removed from this flight were removed because either the court or the Home Office decided their removal would be unlawful. Yet still those removed may have had inadequate legal advice as a result of the shambolic operation of the legal advice system in detention. The high court has now given permission for Detention Action's challenge to these shortcomings to be heard next month."

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady had also said that the flight should be called off, adding: "There have been far too many miscarriages of justice in the immigration system. All deportation flights should be suspended while the Home Office addresses its failures to adequately check the circumstances of those targeted for deportation."

Hours before the flight, activists of the movement Stop The Plane had also locked themselves to metal pipes outside Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport. A spokesperson for Stop The Plane said: "We reject the legitimacy of the entire deportation regime. It is premised on racist notions of black, brown and racialised people."

At least five people due to be on the flight had had their deportation deferred because they had been identified as potential victims of trafficking, with indicators that they had been groomed by county lines gangs and that this had played a role in crimes they had committed. It is now reported that an "Immigration Enforcement Competent Authority" has been given the power to decide whether or not someone is a victim of human trafficking. Since the sole purpose of "Immigration Enforcement" is deportation, this will effectively end victims of county lines and exploitation from getting a fair hearing for their case.

But the issue is not really to assess whether such circumstances warrant deportation to a different country, but to recognise the inherent violation of the rights of those affected by the racist model that the government implements, as well as making the process a source of private profit to vested interests such as Serco.

Workers' Weekly adds its voice to all those outraged by the programme, and the violation of the rights of its victims. We salute all those in action, whether family and community, or the various movements against injustice. The government's inhuman programme of deportations must stop.


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