The families and lawyers of people who were deported to Jamaica this weekhave called on the government to stop expelling people who have lived in the UK since childhood.
At least nine people who had been due to be deported on Wednesday but who were given a last-minute reprieve have been in the UK since they were children. Media coverage of their cases appears to have prompted officials to reconsider decisions to remove them, although no explanation was given for the change of plan.
Vance Brown, from Oxford, whose son Chevon, 23, was deported on Wednesday, said Chevon was in a very bad state when they spoke by phone after his arrival in Kingston. “He is devastated and feeling suicidal. We told him to hang on for our sake,” he said.
Chevon, who came to the UK when he was 14, served eight months in prison for dangerous driving. His sentence triggered a deportation order. All his family are in Oxford and he has no relatives in Jamaica. His father asked a friend to collect him from the airport
“It is wrong to deport people who have come here as a child, especially when you have committed a minor crime,” his father said, adding that he felt angry when he heard the home secretary, Sajid Javid, describe those scheduled for deportation as serious criminals, listing murderers and rapists among their number. “That hurt so much when I heard that. He is a gentle young man who stepped into the wrong crowd. He served his time in prison and was on the right path.”
Ruth Gabriel, whose son Horace Hutchinson, 39, was also among the 29 deported, said it was wrong for the government to exile people who had been brought to the UK as children. Hutchinson had lived in England since he was 12. He was issued with a deportation order after serving time in prison for grievous bodily harm.
“I would like to tell Sajid Javid that if they are here since they were children, they shouldn’t be removed,” Gabriel said. “He should put himself in their shoes. I’m not making excuses for my son, but the system paralysed him.”
She said her son had never been granted UK residency rights because he had got into trouble as a teenager. He was not able to go to college and was not allowed to work. He had hoped to train as a maths teacher but was asked to leave college when it emerged he did not have the right papers. “It made it difficult for him to go forward.”Advertisement
Gabriel said her son had gone to stay with cousins in Jamaica whom he barely knew. His two children, aged six and seven, were distraught at his sudden disappearance from their lives, she said.
Owen Haisley, 45, who has lived in England since he was four and who was one of those given a last-minute reprieve, said he had been given no information about why he was allowed to remain.
“We still don’t know what’s going to happen to us,” Haisley said by phone from his cell at Harmondsworth detention centre, where he said there were around 12 people who had been unexpectedly allowed to stay.
His MP, Lucy Powell, wrote to Javid on Thursday urging him to reconsider Haisley’s case. “We cannot consider a man that has lived in this country for 41 years, has had indefinite leave to remain since he was four years old, as ‘foreign’,” she wrote. “He should be treated in the same way as any other British national and should not face this further punishment post-conviction.”
Nick Beales, of Bail for Immigration Detainees, a legal charity that provide advice and representation for people detained under immigration powers, said the charity had been supporting four people who had expected to be deported on Wednesday’s flight, three of whom were reprieved. They had committed non-violent, non-sexual offences, and two of them had British children.
“We would oppose the deportation of people who arrived here as children,” Beales said. “Seeking to exile them to a country they have no connection with is a form of double punishment. We also struggle to see how it is in the public interest to separate British citizen children from their parents. Obviously a child growing up with one of their parents thousands of miles away is never going to be a positive thing for them. It will reduce the child’s ability to reach their full potential.”
Karen Doyle, a spokesperson for Movement for Justice, an anti-deportation organisation that raised awareness of the deportations, said it was problematic that so many people had been removed from the list after media coverage. “It is a travesty of justice that it takes publicity to stop these unjust deportations from happening,” she said.
Steve Valdez-Symonds of Amnesty International, said the charity did not oppose all deportations, but Britain’s deportation policy had for many years been “cruel, unjust and contrary to people’s human rights”.
Figures released this week showed that the number of people fighting deportation and removal who received legal aid support fell from 4,100 in 2012/13 to 280 in 2017/18, after cuts to the legal aid system.