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  • Georgina Milner

Unjust Deportations

The recent deportations to Jamaica shows there is one rule for white people and another for minorities.

A deportation flight carrying 17 long term British residents took off to Jamaica last week, despite a recent court hearing which already ruled that more than half of the original 56 detained would not be allowed to be deported. Despite this government having been responsible for already cutting 21,000 from our streets, they have cited concerns for law and order as their reason. Sajid Javid, the Chancellor at the time, defended the government’s position that these were offenders posing a risk to the public, stating “these are all foreign national offenders - they have all received custodial sentences of 12 months or more. They are responsible for crimes like manslaughter, rape, dealing in class-A-drugs”. However, amongst the group originally intended to be deported was Tajay Thomson, who arrived in the UK aged 5 and committed a single drugs-related offence after being groomed by county lines gangs. Thomson had already served a seven-month sentence in 2015 and has since not re-offended. Labour MP David Lammy said he knew of eight initial deportees convicted of non-violent offences, and nine of drugs related offences.

The court ordered the Home Office not to remove anyone scheduled to be deported from two detention centres near Heathrow on the 6:30 flight to Jamaica “unless satisfied (they) had access to a functioning, non-O2 sim card on or before 3 February”. This action was brought forward because there was a problem with the O2 network in Heathrow detention centres for over a month, meaning that many detainees had been unable to contact their lawyers and exercise their legal rights. The Home Office’s attempt to overturn the decision failed just before 1am on Tuesday morning.

This court ruling came alongside more than 150 cross-party MP’s calling on Boris Johnson to halt the flight, citing a range of concerns. Following the court’s decision, the prime minister’s press secretary said the reaction to the case showed that “certain parts of Westminster still haven’t learned the lessons of the 2019 election”. This statement showcases the real purpose of these deportations, not to enforce law and order, but to create a public spectacle pandering to their voter base.

Deportation is a policy inherently designed to split families apart and these deportations are set to leave over 40 children separated from their parents. Tony Brook, 48, who was given a last-minute reprieve and has lived in the UK for 28 years, would have been leaving behind five children without a father. The determination with which this government has pursued this deportation policy has illustrated how deeply they are attached to their anti-immigration politics and to wielding those politics whenever possible. The flight has gone ahead without a large chunk of its intended passengers. The government did not want to wait to conclude the legal issues and cases of the other potential deportees. They wanted a quick political win to appeal to their voter base.

In a country which is supposed to have a strong judicial system and seems to understand justice as receiving the rewards or punishments which we are due, we seem to throw these notions away when it comes to black and brown people. Our justice system determines that when a crime is committed, we serve the sentence given as determined by judge and jury, and then we are able to return to society. However, as is the case with many of these detainees such as Thomson, their sentences were already served and yet they are still being targeted, treating black people as second-class citizens in our society - yet again.

We often hear about black and brown people being deported, but rarely do we hear of white Americans or Australians being deported. Do they never commit crimes? Do they never breach their visa requirements? The justification of criminality has been used many times in the past and governments have often played upon people’s fears of ‘culture’ and the economy, pandering to racist inclinations to aid their goals. This government itself proudly lauded its policy package the “hostile environment” before their recent surface level rebrand. These displays are littered through recent UK history, from both political parties. From New Labour’s decision to deport 20 people to Afghanistan in 2003, to the “Go home” vans which were paraded about in 2013, boasting about immigration raids.

It is important to consider the impact of deportation in that it can endanger those deported who are unfamiliar with the country, and may be low level offenders who are being stigmatised through this public spectacle, unable to get a job once they arrive. Not to mention, it was revealed that last year at least five men had been murdered after their deportation to Jamaica. However, this issue reaches deeper than simply deportation; it is the whole policy of race baiting and scapegoating used by politicians, inflicting cruelty on immigrant communities in order to appear ‘tough’. The Labour leader’s statements in PMQs outline perfectly the hypocrisy of this government when it comes to immigration. Corbyn asked "if there was a young white boy with blonde hair, who later dabbled in class A drugs, and conspired with a friend to beat up a journalist, would he deport that boy? Or is it one rule for young black boys from the Caribbean, and another for white boys from the US?". The backlash to these statements itself shows the ingrained prejudices of the government. The fact they find a comparison between a white boy and black boy committing similar crimes so incredulous itself shows how removed they are from these communities.

Image from: Flickr

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