February 09, 2020
Pressure is growing on Boris Johnson to halt a flight set to deport 50 people to Jamaica until a report into the Windrush controversy is released.
Halt Jamaica Deportation Flight Until Windrush Report Released, MPs And Peers Tell PM
More than 150 cross-party MPs and peers have written to the prime minister warning of the “unacceptable risk” of removing anyone with a potential Windrush claim.
The 2018 scandal saw at least 83 people with the right to live in the UK wrongly deported.
The Home Office has chartered a flight to Jamaica on February 11 “specifically for removing foreign criminals”.
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, organised the letter in protest at the move she says is intended to deport people who have been resident in the UK for decades.
The flight comes after a review commissioned in the wake of the Windrush scandal recommended deportations of foreign-born offenders, particularly those who came to the UK as children, should be reconsidered, according to a leaked copy of a draft report.
The leaked review, which was sent to the MP David Lammy in June 2019, reportedly said that forced removals should only be considered in the “most severe cases”.
News of the flight prompted Lammy to call for the flight to be suspended prior to the report and highlighted the impact on their families.
Whittome said: “The fact is that many of the individuals in question have lived in the UK since they were children and at least 41 British children are now at risk of losing their fathers through this charter flight.
“The government risks repeating the mistakes of the Windrush scandal unless it cancels this flight and others like it until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been published and its recommendations implemented.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is among those calling for Johnson to intervene.The Home Office plans to deport 50 people to Jamaica on 11th February.Cancel the flight until the Lessons Learned Review is published and its recommendations implemented, or risk repeating the Windrush scandal.Over 170 colleagues and I wrote urging the Prime Minister to act. pic.twitter.com/cubfqsBPwx— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) February 9, 2020Labour shadow immigration minister Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “Mass deportation by charter flight is the most brutal and inhumane way to remove people from this country.
“It often lacks due process, has little regard for deportees safety, and even less for their right to a family life.
“Both the Home Office and the Prime Minister do not appear to even have the correct information on those due on the flight.
“We are calling on the government to halt all charter flight deportations until it publishes its Windrush lessons learned review.
“After the Windrush scandal, we expect better.
“But this government will stop at nothing to maintain its hostile environment.”
Two young men facing deportation to Jamaica, despite strong criticism, have said they worry for their lives if they are forced to leave the UK.
The men, convicted of drug offences as teenagers, told the PA news agency they both identify as British and have no link to Jamaica, after leaving the country at an early age.
Tajay Thompson served half of a 15-month sentence in 2015 after he was convicted of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply as a 17-year-old.
Thompson, now 23, was brought to Britain as a five-year-old and lives with his mother and younger brother in south London, having only visited Jamaica twice on holidays since.
“I feel like I was born here. Jamaica is not my country,” he said.
“It’s not like I’m a rapist or a murderer, I’ve made a mistake when I was 17 and it’s now going to affect my whole life.”
Thompson said he was groomed by a gang and forced to sell drugs as a teenager and has not re-offended since his release six years ago.
Akiva Heaven, 22, who served around four years for a drugs offence and was released in May 2018, said: “I’ve done my sentence already, I’ve done my crime, done my time as they would say.
“Now, I’m getting a double punishment.”
Heaven said there was a risk to his life if he was deported to Jamaica, where he has no relatives or memories.
He said: “I really don’t know what would happen to me.
“I know of two people who have gone back home and they’ve lost their lives within a couple of months.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen but you never know.”Many on this flight are more British than foreign, having lived in the UK since they were young children. Many have not committed "severe" crimes, but are one-time drug offenders. Deportations must be stopped until the Windrush Review is implemented.pic.twitter.com/ZbePdSkiSy— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) February 7, 2020The Home Office previously said that under the UK Borders Act 2007, a deportation order must be made where a foreign national has been convicted of an offence and received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.
However there are exceptions, including where this would breach a person’s human rights or the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.
A Home Office spokesman previously said: “The planned charter flight to Jamaica is specifically for removing foreign criminals.
“Those detained for removal include people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing Class-A drugs.”Related... It's Been A Disgraceful Year Of Racism In Football Laurence Fox Tells BBC Question Time Audience Member 'To Call Me A White Privileged Male Is Racist' Windrush Victim Brands Home Office's £22,000 Compensation Offer 'An Insult'
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