‘WE MAY very well be deporting people who are entitled to be here,’ the Jamaican High Commissioner said, calling on the UK government to halt deportations to the country until the Home Office has published its investigation into the Windrush scandal.
This is a move which would stop deportation flights of innocent people for years.
Commissioner Seth George Ramocan told relatives of deportees on a recent charter flight to Jamaica that he would be holding talks with his government and the Home Office about the unlawful removal of people who are entitled to be in Britain.
‘If these are people who have lived here since they were children, they have no connection, no relatives, no one to take care of them in Jamaica, then this for me is a human rights matter,’ Ramocan said.
During a meeting at the Jamaican embassy on Thursday, parents, children and partners of those deported, and those who remain at risk of deportation, gave emotional accounts of losing their loved ones and their fears for the future.
They described immigration officers arriving before dawn and kicking down doors, before taking family members to immigration removal centres. One woman described spending £22,000 on legal fees without managing to stop the deportation of her husband who had attended primary and secondary school in the UK. Another described a friend, who had also been in Britain since primary school, attempting to kill himself when he learned that he was facing deportation.
The Home Office has admitted that at least 63 members of the Windrush generation have been treated in this fashion and wrongly deported to the Caribbean. Thousands of men, women and their children came over from the Caribbean on boats such as the Empire Windrush to work in the NHS and the transport system, which at the time was still a nationalised, publicly-owned service. They were welcomed and urged to stay on to build a new life for themselves in England as they helped rebuild it after the war.
It never occurred to them that they would need to keep their landing cards to prove that they had come to the UK legally. Then, in 2010 the Home Office burned their landing cards, the evidence of their legal arrival.
PM May is responsible. She was Home Secretary at the time. She created a ‘hostile environment’ in which thousands had to prove their right to stay or face deportation. Despite pious words, government ‘apologies’ and public hand-wringing May’s hostile environment is alive and kicking and as vicious as ever.
The Jamaican High Commissioner was referring to the incident on February 6 when twenty-nine individuals were deported to Jamaica in a move that was described as a ‘slap in the face’ for Britain’s Caribbean community, 10 months after the Windrush scandal broke last April.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, said: ‘Britain stopped deporting British criminals to Australia in 1868. This forced repatriation is a scandal in itself.’
When fifteen activists bravely stopped a deportation flight by chaining themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, they were branded as ‘terrorists’. The fifteen activists were convicted of a terrorist-related offence and received suspended sentences or community orders.
Meanwhile, those that came over to the UK when they were very young, or have no papers to prove that they have been in the UK all their lives, have been denied free medical treatment on the NHS.
In one case, Sylvester Marshall, who had lived in Britain all his life, was denied NHS cancer care. The Royal Marsden hospital only started his long-delayed radiotherapy when the Home Office finally, after a nine-year battle, confirmed his legal right to be in the UK.
The only force that can put a stop to May’s hostile environment once and for good is the working class. An uprising of the working class, in a general strike to bring the May government down is the only way forwards.
A workers government, under the banner of revolutionary internationalism, will welcome workers from anywhere in the world to come and live with their families in a socialist Britain.