Protest against deportation flight, February 2020 Protest against deportation flight, February 2020. Photo: Shabbir Lakha

Government plans to deport another 50 black people on 2 December in a continuation of the racist hostile environment must be opposed urgently

The Home Office has planned another deportation flight of 50 British-Jamaicans, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 2 December. The flight will carry people who the Home Office classes as having no right to remain in the UK, due to criminal convictions. Those who will be deported may have received a 12-month sentence but now will be deported for life.

82 black public figures have written to airlines who work on deportation flights, urging them not to facilitate the flight. They rightly pointed out that the flight will likely result in the unlawful removal of people who have the right to remain.

We know that time after time the Home Office has wrongly classified people as illegal immigrants in order to deport them. Reports into Windrush scandal and the hostile environment have all criticised the Home Office for wrongly classifying people as illegal immigrants and said that these mistakes have been influenced by racism. The government has ignored the recommendations of these reports and not one of the 30 recommendations outlined in the Lessons Learned review have been implemented.

The latest report into the hostile environment has found that the Home Office broke equalities law with its measures, saying that there was a “lack of commitment, including by senior leadership, to the importance of equality.” The report also found that the damage to people’s lives caused by the hostile environment policies was “repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or severity disregarded” in a “highly politicised environment.”

This came around the same time as we found out that the most senior black official in the Home Office, who was in charge of the Windrush compensation scheme, had quit her role. She said that the scheme was systematically racist and unfit for purpose; a damning inditement of a scheme supposed to provide compensation for those who suffered the trauma of the Windrush scandal.

The Home Office has therefore proved itself determined to continue deporting black people and stoking racism. Following backlash, the government has been forced into an agreement with Jamaica which means they will not deport anyone who arrived in Britain under the age of 12. However, it appears that none of the people scheduled for deportation on 2 December fit this category and are still due to be deported.

Those who will be deported have been kept in inhumane detention centres with Covid infections at high levels. The prevalence of Covid is so bad that Detention Action, a charity that works to stop unjust deportations, has said that the detention centres are capable of constituting death sentences. Many of those detained have been denied access to legal aid, which the government conveniently claims is due to Covid restrictions.

This situation is painfully reminiscent of the deportation flight to Jamaica in February, in which 50 British-Jamaicans were due to be deported. This flight was disrupted at the last minute, when four of those supposed to be deported were found to be potential victims of human trafficking and another 29 people were allowed to stay.

17 people were still deported in February, with many of those who were going to be and who were deported having arrived in the UK as young as two and having committed one-time drug offences or the like. If all 50 had been deported, more than 40 children could have been separated from their fathers.

Likewise, it has been found that five people due to be deported are the main carers for their children, since the other parent is a key worker and around 30 children could lose their fathers.

This deportation flight is yet another outrageous show of contempt for black and brown people from this government. Just as happened during the Windrush scandal and the last deportation flight, the Home Office is deporting people who have lived and worked in the UK for decades, who have families here and who have built their whole lives here.

The government has shown that it remains committed to maintain an environment of fear and hostility towards migrants, making the lives of new immigrants to arrive in the UK full of misery and fear.

We have to oppose these inhumane deportation flights and call for an end to the cruel hostile environment and scapegoating of migrants.

The flight in February was met with significant opposition from the movements, with protesters shutting down Whitehall. We must once again oppose the authoritarian, cruel actions of this deeply racist government.

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