By Adela Begum, BA Politics and International Relations
On 11 February 2020, 17 individuals were forcibly deported by the Home Office to Jamaica. Most have lived in the UK since childhood. The flight, originally planned to carry aboard 50 deportees, was reduced in passengers as a result of a court ruling disclosing that many detainees did not have access to legal advice during the procedure. Many of these deportees have been split from their families leaving a total of 41 children separated from their parents.
The government is undoubtedly fostering a hostile environment that will only leave an ugly dent on history. And as Tory ministers act as if they are above the law, the case continues.
The government has been spending a significant amount of taxpayers’ money on both deportation and detentions. In the last quarter of 2019, the Home Office spent an impressive figure of almost £12,000 per person on chartered flights, despite the present conditions of austerity in Britain. The Prime Minister’s spokesman expressed disappointment at the courts’ decision to halt the deportation of 25 individuals stating it has ‘already cost the British public tens of thousands of pounds,’ a striking irony given the very avoidable costs had the government not separated these individuals from their families.
Newly appointed Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, defended the move stating that the deportees are those who committed crimes such as ‘rape, manslaughter, murder’. Yet Labour MP, David Lammy, said he knew of eight deportees who were previously convicted of non-violent offences and that nine deportees committed drug-related crimes. Many stories have poured in from previous and current deportations of the deportees who have faced the harsh penalty. At least five men were murdered following their deportation to Jamaica last year. Some of those who have been deported have expressed fears that they will be targets of gangs and at least seven have gone into hiding. Those include a 24-year-old who served three months for a burglary he was convicted of committing during the 2011 riots; a young man named, Chevon Brown, who was convicted of dangerous driving and spent seven months in prison at 21; and 23-year-old Tajay Thomson, who arrived in the UK aged five and spent 15 months for a drug offence committed at the age of 17. Former chancellor, Sajid Javid was asked on Sky News if he was sorry particularly about the harsh consequence of Thompson’s case; the response was swift and firm: ‘We’re not even saying sorry.’
Echoes of the Windrush scandal – which saw lifelong British citizens unjustly deported to the Caribbean – deafeningly ring through these stories. The government is undoubtedly fostering a hostile environment that will only leave an ugly dent on history. And as Tory ministers act as if they are above the law, the case continues.