Priti Patel is at the centre of another growing storm

Priti Patel on Sky News

Priti Patel is involved in yet another growing scandal. This time it involves the deportation of people to Jamaica right before Christmas. Sadly, this story is now becoming all too familiar.

Another Jamaican deportation flight

The Morning Star reported that on 2 December the Home Office is planning to deport around eight people. It said that these included:

fathers of young children and a man who has lived in the country since he was seven, according to campaigners.

At least eight people have so far been booked onto the flight after they were detained and transferred to detention centres

Campaign group BARAC UK has started a petition. It’s calling on the Home Office to stop the flight. As of 11am on Sunday 22 November, over 147,000 people had signed it. Co-founder and national chair of BARAC UK Zita Holbourne told The Canary:

We believe it is totally wrong to be deporting people to Jamaica in the middle of a pandemic and when the Windrush Lessons Learned recommendations have not yet been implemented. Most of those targeted for deportation have lived in the UK since they were small children. All their family are here and it’s the only home they know. Most of them have children. Also, recent research shows that there are huge psychological and lasting impacts of separation due to deportations on children.

Untold damage

The research Holbourne noted is from the organisation Bail for Immigration Detainees (BiD). It found that:

Read on...

mounting empirical research that has begun to document the short-and long-term effects of detention and deportation on children and families.

BiD noted:

  • “Physical separation in the case of deportation disrupts the essential secure base of a child, thereby risking internalizing symptoms (depression, anxiety) and externalizing behaviours (withdrawal, aggression)”.
  • “Deportation leads to the abrupt loss of a familiar home environment and family structure. It can lead to family dissolution”.
  • “Deportation is also associated with a loss of income, and numerous US studies show how this can lead to housing insecurity, food insecurity, psychological distress, and falling from low income into poverty”.
  • “The experience of deportation produces increased emotional and behavioural distress among children and places children at risk of developing a range of disorders, such as sleeping disorders, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder”.
  • “The emotional effects are often compounded by successive traumatic experiences such as immigration raids and parental detention”.
Pandemic implications

Holbourne also told The Canary that the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has made this deportation even more shocking. She said:

In the middle of a pandemic, visiting is not permitted so families cannot even say goodbye. That this is happening just before Christmas will make it much worse for families in an already difficult year for us all. Black people are up to four times more likely to contract and die of coronavirus. So… [the Home Office] is putting people at risk and potentially spreading the virus by detaining them and taking them on long haul flights chained to two security guards.

Holbourne noted that:

Most of those targeted for deportation if not of the Windrush generation will have a link because they came to the UK to join parents or grandparents of the Windrush generation.

Righting wrongs?

In Jamaica, the flight has also made the news. The Gleaner reported it understood that “upwards of 20 persons” could be on the flight. Windrush National Organisation (WNO UK) chairman Dr Desmond Jaddoo told the Gleaner:

We are very concerned because we are aware that once landed, too many of these people have no family or friends returning to.

It does beg the question whether or not the Home Office really committed to righting the wrongs, which it has committed, particularly to Jamaicans, because families are on tenterhooks and in fear for the safety of their loved ones.

Holbourne echoed a similar point. She told The Canary:

Windrush Lessons Learned recommendations include the need for race equality training and the history of colonialism and Black people in Britain in order to avoid racist outcomes by the government. So it is disgraceful that despite the government setting up a commission on race and in the middle of them conducting a consultation on racism in Britain following the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer that they would think it acceptable to go ahead and do this now.

The Home Office says…

The Home Office is claiming this flight will go ahead. It told the Morning Star:

We make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals to keep the public safe.

That is why we regularly operate charter flights to different countries to remove dangerous criminals who have no right to be here.

But in February, a previous flight to Jamaica turned into a national scandal.

Meet Osime

As The Canary reported at the time, the government made similar claims about the people it was deporting being criminals. But MPs and campaigners disputed this. One example is the case of Osime Brown. The Home Office had been trying to deport him. A petition to stop his deportation said:

Brown is 22 years old, he is profoundly autistic and developmentally younger than his peers. Osime is also learning disabled, dyslexic and due to his time in care has since been diagnosed with PTSD, and suffers with depression.

Osime was jailed in 2018 over the theft of a phone in a street robbery, despite a witness for the defence stating Osime had not taken the phone and had in fact asked the other teens carrying out the robbery to stop. He got 5 year’s in prison under the Joint Enterprise Law, it was also ordered that upon his release he be taken to a detention centre and be deported to Jamaica.

As a result of this campaign and an appeal by his solicitor’s Osime was not taken to the detention centre upon his release due to his ill health, he is now home, yet still awaits deportation.

People on February’s flight had also previously been convicted under the Joint Enterprise Law. It allowed judges to convict people of crimes such as murder. The rule was used in situations where someone was involved, but did not actually kill the victim. As the Guardian reported, in 2016, the Supreme Court said that judges had been ‘wrongly interpreting’ the law. This has led to people raising questions about a number of convictions using the rule.

But what’s also of concern is something the Gleaner reported.

Ignoring the law?

It said that:

It is believed that several of the people to be deported had a stay granted at the last minute from a charter flight earlier this year.

Back in February, the Home Office was originally going to deport around 50 people to Jamaica. But after campaigns and legal interventions, the flight ended up having 17 people on it. BBC News said that court orders had stopped the Home Office deporting 25 others. So, it seems that this was just a brief period of respite for these people.

Campaigners will be hopeful that the same outcry that was seen in February may halt the 2 December flight. But it’s of major concern that the government feels it can once again attempt to deport people who a court said couldn’t be deported earlier this year. And given Boris Johnson’s support for home secretary Patel, despite the recent outcry over her alleged behaviour, it is unlikely the Home Office will back down. So it’s crucial as many people get involved to try and stop this deportation as possible.

Featured image via Steve Topple – YouTube

Get involved

  • Sign the petition to stop the deportation flight.
  • Also, sign the petition in support of Osime Brown.

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